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Tasheka Lavann Headshot

Orlando Massacre A Reality Check For LGBTQ Community

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As I type this piece, the tears just won't stop flowing. Being a gay rights activist and a victim of homophobia, I am often left in tears when I come across stories about homophobic attacks or when members come to me about the struggles they are facing. Well, this one takes the cake. This story has left me numb. My heart is bleeding and I cannot stop crying.

More than 50 of my people are dead, and for what? Simply because they were gay and perhaps because they supported gay rights as fellow human beings!

It was not too long ago that I was telling some of my friends how much more work needs to be done in the community, and that all the things we wish and hope for won't be achieved until we unite as a rainbow family and protect each other.

I came to that conclusion after one of my Facebook followers insisted that I "stop advocating so much because we (LGBTQ community) have more rights than ever before." This was a gay man.

It is quite obvious that many within and outside our community share this belief. We have become so complacent, thinking that because we got a few laws on the books that somehow we have achieved freedom and protection.
We must come together as one people, one nation, to affirm that love conquers hate and to demand that we receive the same rights, respect and protection as every other human being.

We are now in June, which is our Pride Month, and while celebrating our pride by partying is a great expression that I too partake in, many of us have completely forgotten the origins of this celebration, this political platform that helped to pave the way for our parades and our parties.

As a community of LGBTQ people, many of us continue to turn a blind eye to the realities of our brothers and sisters, especially if we live in communities where LGBT rights are recognized. Well, the shooting in Orlando has reminded the world that no gay person -- no lesbian, bisexual or trans person -- is free from homophobia. We are still vulnerable.

This attack is not about any religious group or race; it is a wake-up call for the LGBTQ community, its allies and all the people that are outraged at this moment. It is a huge reality check that clearly shows why every member of our community needs protection. That would include my transgender family who would love to use the bathroom without being bombed.

Are we going to sit by and allow the extinction of our community before we take a stance?

When I wrote my last blog post on "Pride Is A Reminder To Never Take Our Journey For Granted," it was all in an effort to open up the eyes of those who are sleeping and thinking that all is well in the world now. It is not! While Pride is a celebration of love and life, it is being turned into a horror movie; one that is too hard to watch.

Our community is under attack now more than ever, and we must come together as one people, one nation, to affirm that love conquers hate and to demand that we receive the same rights, respect and protection as every other human being. We deserve it and it is up to all of us to make it happen!

In a few weeks, I will be marching in Toronto's gay pride parade for the second time after leaving my homophobic country of birth last year, and I will be dedicating every step of the parade to all the victims and their families. I will never forget!

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