We are deeply saddened and angered by the violence that unfolded in the early hours of Sunday morning at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. This attack on queer and trans Latinx and Black people is part of a long legacy in the United States of homophobia and transphobia, racist violence by police and vigilante groups, and fear and hatred of those who are different.
We have already seen dangerous, Islamophobic statements that will generate additional hatred and violence toward Muslim communities. To challenge the systems and beliefs that embolden individuals and groups to carry out horrific violence, we must rise in solidarity with all communities committed to ending homophobia, transphobia, and racism — systemic, interpersonal, and internalized.
On Monday evening, we joined other LGBTQ organizations in Los Angeles, our larger communities of queer and trans Angelenos, and our allies in a vigil at City Hall. API Equality-LA Co-Founder and Steering Committee Tri-Chair Marshall Wong urged the more than 3,000 attendees: “As we mourn for the lives lost, pray for the wounded and try to make sense of this act of madness, we must make sure we do not compound the tragedy by scapegoating an entire religion or ethnic group for the murderous rampage of one man.” API Equality-LA rejects any attempts that would use Islamophobia to divide our LGBTQ communities.
Many of us were gathered together as queer and trans APIs to march at LA Pride when we learned of the tragedy in Orlando. That morning, we also learned that a man was arrested with an arsenal of assault weapons and explosives, on his way to LA Pride. Although no one was hurt, we cannot understate the fear that continued threats of violence creates. And as we denounce the actions of individuals driven by hate, we also state that increased policing of queer and trans people of color, anti-Muslim rhetoric, and politicized Islamophobia will not make our communities safer.
We recognize that increased visibility for queer and trans people does not directly equate to an increase in safety and respect. As the mainstream media declared a “transgender tipping point,” we witnessed a rising tide of transphobia across the United States, amplified by more than 100 anti-LGBTQ ballot initiatives and policy changes, most targeting transgender and gender nonconforming people. We know that discriminatory policies and hateful language contribute directly to violence against our communities.
As we find ways to mourn and heal, we are committed to working towards LGBTQ and racial justice for all queer and trans people of color, including our queer and trans Muslim siblings. We ask that you join us in standing in solidarity with all Muslim, Latinx, Black, people of color, and LGBTQ communities that have been affected by the shooting in Orlando as we work together to build a world where we can live free from fear.
Executive Director, API Equality-LA
P.S. I would also like to honor and uplift the many ways that folks are taking care of themselves, and to offer a reminder that perhaps the most important thing we can do now is to listen to ourselves and recognize what will make us feel most safe, including options like staying at home and reaching out to loved ones for support. Thank you all for the powerful ways you exist, resist, and build.