June 13, 2016
Dear colleagues, family, and friends,
I feel compelled to write just a few words to you this morning after the unfathomable horror and tragic massacre in Orlando. I do so, first and foremost, as a proud American. I also do so as a proud member of the LGBT community. Over the last 24 hours, many of you have generously reached out to me expressing grief, sharing profound sadness, extending unconditional love, and searching for answers. Until now, I have been mostly speechless, overly emotional, and lost for words following this unspeakable act of terror.
I am heartbroken and angry. My soul is rocked to the core for each and every victim and their family. While exact details about the deadliest mass shooting in American history continue to unfold, we wake up today utterly aware of the harsh reality that each and every one of us was attacked in Orlando by the dark forces of raw hate. Our way of life, our core values, our peace of mind, our sense of basic decency, and our quest for tolerance and equality were shattered by bullets and blood and death on a dance floor.
Killing our innocent brothers and sisters on a dance floor is an act of despicable cowardice and utter depravity. It strikes all of us in the heart. The dance floor has served as a place of joyful music and beautiful celebration for so many generations across so many cultures for people from all walks of life. For many of us in the LGBT community, the bar and dance floor in a gay nightclub has served an even more powerful role in our life journey as we have struggled on the road to full equality. When we felt fear and hate and discrimination from the outside world and from our own internalized homophobia, we found refuge and a safe haven in our gay bars and dance clubs. The dance floor is where we experienced feeling fully alive, totally safe, and comfortable in our own skin. The uplifting music, the pulse and beat, the adrenaline rush, and the raw excitement allowed us to escape the heavy anxiety and seemingly constant insecurity just outside the door. The terrorist coward in Orlando attacked our people on our dance floor.
It is no coincidence that evil people try to terrorize and dehumanize us by striking us down in social gathering spots, schools, and places of worship where we go to feel safe, find common ground, learn about each other, and connect with our spirituality. These are places that unite us, bring us together, and bring out the best in us. Terrorists can try to take that all away from us, but they will fail. Freedom-loving people never run from a fight, Americans have unrelenting resolve, and the LGBT community has unwavering resilience.
We are all in this together: young and old, gay and straight, democrats and republicans, black and white, religious and non-religious, American and non-American. We will honor the innocent victims of this senseless violence and care for their grieving loved ones. We will vigorously protect and defend ourselves and our freedom without succumbing to our worst instincts. We will ensure that true justice is done without lowering our moral standards. We will figure out how this grotesque act of hate will unite us instead of divide us. Someway, somehow we will find true moments of grace in the midst of the death and darkness.
And we will dance again.