As the world knows, during the early hours of June 12, 2016, a crazy man decided it was okay to walk into the Pulse Nightclub here in Orlando, kill 49 people, and injure several more. Immediately the News suspected Islamic Terrorists because of the shooter's Muslim Faith. Yet, as details started to emerge the story kept changing: He was acting on behalf of ISIS; He was Gay and due to his faith couldn't be himself; He was acting alone but pretending to be with ISIS; He is not with ISIS but crazy; (and my favorite) It was a False Flag Operation and none of it really happened! What the Hell - How can any of us keep it straight? Especially now, with all the conspiracy nut bags out there trying to prove that somehow our government faked the deaths of 49 people, and all those on the news were paid actors. First, people who believe that, are not only dishonoring those who died, but also the families they left behind. But you know what - Who cares? Who cares what the media is saying, or what the online conspiracy nuts thinks? What matters is that 49 people were killed by someone who allowed his HATE to boil and fester until he basically exploded on 300 people.
I want to be clear, I don't care if he was Muslim. I don't care if he was anything. Believing in the Muslim Faith does not automatically make you a terrorist or a bad person. For centuries, people have used Faith and Politics to push their agendas. Sometimes those agendas are hateful, while most of the time they are kind. The KKK, has spread hate in the name of God for over 100 years. There are crazy Fundamentalist Mormons known as the FLDS, that take girls of 12 to 14 years old and marry them to men twice their age. What's worse, is these men usually have multiple wives and "keep it in the family" if you get my drift. All because it is part of their belief system. And, just in case you didn't know, FLDS is Christian Faith. Sure they are not blowing up buildings, or killing each other left and right, but they are practicing Statutory Rape. OMG and this Westboro Baptist Church! Do I need to even say anymore? You know how ignorant and hateful they are?
So why are we so quick to be hateful ourselves. Do we not see that by condemning all Muslims we are being hateful? I lost two very close friends of mine in 1998 to hate. Neo-Nazi skinheads made it their mission to target my friends and kill them in cold blood. It was 4th of July 1998 in Las Vegas. My friends, Lin Newborn and Daniel Shersty died, because some assholes believed the only race that should exist, is a White one. Pretty horrific. I don't want to go into the long story about them because really it was 18 years ago and this is not about them. This post is meant to honor the 49 people that died and to #stopthehate for all.
Last weekend I spent time both at the Dr. Phillips Memorial, and the Lake Eola Candlelight Vigil, and I was touched at all the items and memorials made for each of the victims. The amount of people that showed up at the Vigil alone had me awe struck and gaining faith in humanity once again. However, the one thing that touched me the most with this moment below.
These two pictures, are of a man, who is Muslim, praying on a rainbow banner that has candles organized to say R.I.P. Yes, this man, who I don't know, is-my-hero. The simple fact that he is a Muslim praying on a Gay Pride banner should be awesome enough. Yet, what I really admire, what I think is something we could all incorporate into our daily lives; what has been proven to bring out equality, sacrifice, and peace throughout history; is love. His love is so powerful it does not see religion; it does not see sexuality; it does not see the many prejudices we as the human race display toward each other on a daily basis. This man, could have been attacked. Some jerk with a hankering for judgement may have seen this and tried to hurt him. But it didn't happen. Everyone there was watching in awe.
I didn't know anyone of the 49 victims personally and I won't pretend to understand the depth of the families' sorrow, but I do understand enough to know we have to change. We have to do something about the hate. We have to take the lead from our parents and grandparents and stand up against the injustices that are happening in the world and demand change. Only then will we be able to protect our citizens. Is the solution Gun Control? Is the solution banning Muslims? No & No. The solution is much more than just these two things. The solution starts with us and our leaders. When we have political figures like Donald Trump who believe that banning Muslims from the country and building walls along the Mexican Border is an answer, don't wonder why we have people who shoot up nightclubs, churches, schools, or movie theaters. Trump is basically spreading fear and hate among his followers, and so they follow suit and spread it to everyone else. It's like cancer. It will spread like fire if we are not careful and set us back 20, 30, 40, 50 to 100 years. Granted as a society, we have come a long way when it comes to equality, yet it's still not good enough, and will not be good enough until the possibility of having a Black, Muslim, Woman, or Gay President doesn't make most of the country freak out!
I would like to recognize Local News 13 for the awesome job they have done in honoring the victims. From listing each one's name and bio on their site here, to displaying their photos and names in small sequences on TV between broadcasts. You really did an outstanding job; and as I understand it, BrightHouse is releasing the complete footage from Lake Eola Candlelight Vigil Free OnDemand for those who missed it.
I think I have let this post get away from me. I have been wanting to write something for the last couple of days but felt like I didn't know what to say. Now, I think I have said too much. Either way I want to share some of the other photos I took at the Memorial and Vigil this past weekend which I have placed at the end of this post. I also would love to somehow get in contact with the victims' families or even the many that were injured and offer them a free photo session. With this free session, I am hoping I can help tell their story and keep part of them alive. The News is starting to talk less and less about the shooting at Pulse and start to concentrate more on Politics. Yes, maybe people don't want to hear about it anymore, but if we don't keep it going, it will be forgotten. Then months down the road when another shooting happens the cycle will repeat. In order to create change we have to keep focusing on what we need that change to be.
Oh and to the Man Praying at the Dr. Phillips Memorial, whoever you are, I commend you for your love and giving me the hope that we can once and for all strive for peace.