49 Dead In Orlando Shooting

6/13/16 update: we heard this morning that the original count of 50 included the gunman. I've updated the post to show that 49 victims died. Update: here is a list of local events canceled and vigils in Orlando.

I woke up at my sister's home in Maryland looking forward to a peaceful day. That lasted the entire time it took me to check a message from a friend that told me there had been a shooting a at club on Friday night.

IN ORLANDO. I just drove by Pulse last week on my way to meet a friend for dinner! The details are still emerging but my timeline is flooded with breaking news, condolences to the family of those lost, anger, fear. And the question: why?!

At the time of me penning these words in a small diner, the body count is at 49 with over 53 people having been transported to area hospitals for injury.

Families are waiting on their loved ones to reach them and say they are okay.

I received a chilling message a few minutes ago that had my eyes welling with tears "your friend is marked as safe".

This is what it's come to. In a state where the gun lobby has been aggressively trying to loosen gun laws across the country, and where we have been fighting bills against open carry and campus carry, a man started a gunfight with police outside of a club and then headed in and took hostages with an assault weapon.

Fifty people are dead. Fifty three are in the hospital in critical condition. Families are attempting to locate their loved ones. I cannot imagine. But, as I sat across a smiling face at breakfast, I had no choice BUT TO imagine.

The Frog Princess asked me what happened when I first read the news. I told her that a few people got hurt. But, how many stories like this will I have to tell? How many times will I read a body count and hold back tears while sitting across from a smiling face?

My heart is broken. We will hear the typical "pray for..." messages. Politicians will tell you how horrific this is and will stand in front of the cameras before heading back to their offices to cash that NRA check. Fuck that. I'm tired of the rhetoric. It's time we took our communities back.

This was a gay club on a Latin night. 

Orlando_Shooting

Today, I don't have an answer other than, lend a hand. If you can donate blood, do it. If you can stand in solidarity with others, do so. Use your Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter...whatever you're on to stand with the victims. We have to start healing and then we have to raise up!

While there are long lines to donate blood today and One Blood is at capacity right now, blood will still be needed next week. I urge you to not just feel this sadness today but to remember it next Thursday and a month after that. 

I just heard there is also a vigil at Lake Eola across from Panera at 7 p.m. if you're around.

The details will show how this came about. I'm seeing that this act was perpetrated by a homophobe. I don't care where he's from. I care that he's a homophobe. Keep that in mind when you talk to your family and friends. That hate comes through. Do you stand with pride? Do you speak out when you hear hateful words? Will you do so now?

Can we stop this "it's my right" thing when it comes to assault weapons? Can we use common sense to stop these killings?

It is an election year. And I don't want to ever see another "safety check" again.