Vigil For Orlando
A tragedy has occurred in Orlando, Florida recently: in an act of violence, a gunman opened fire on more than 50 unsuspecting club goers in a place that was known as home to many LGBT community members in the area. Pulse nightclub is especially known for providing a safe space for Latinx and trans people.
It is imperative that we all collectively acknowledge this crime for what it is: an act of hate on the LGBT community, and an execution of violence based on institutionalized hate fostered by systematic forces that have been in existence for centuries. The shooting is not an opportunity to promote the pervasive Islamophobia that exists within our society, irrespective of anyone’s sexual orientation or gender presentation. It is however proof of how we as a society must examine, be critical of and change the fact that there is still a great divide between laws and the beliefs of people who are expected to abide by said laws.
The LGBT community already experiences higher rates of physical and sexual violence, poverty, homelessness, frequent denial of medical care, and the constant policing and pathologizing of our identities within institutions that have legal standing on multiple government state levels. Most of us currently live in fear of losing our homes, jobs, families, equal protection under the law and more. This multiplies when a LGBT person experiences racialization, cis-sexism, ableism or any combination of identities that are subsequently oppressed in our society that prioritizes white, straight, cis-gender, and physically and mentally ‘able’. We must resist against division within our already fragmented community, and demand more for ourselves and the younger generation of our community who is being shown that violence experienced at Pulse is what awaits them if things do not change. We must strive to go beyond hoping that “it gets better” and recognize that we deserve better, and act accordingly.
Tonight, many of the UWSA and Board Members will be attending the Vigil for Orlando at the Manitoba Legislature Building for the families that have lost loved ones due to hate in Orlando, Florida. Others will be there in spirit. Some of us on the UWSA are LGBTQ+ and this directly impacts us as a student community working towards combating LGBTQ+ violence and homophobia. We are deeply saddened that loved ones were taken due to intolerance and hate, but we are also frustrated at the islamophobia that has surfaced because of this tragedy.
We highly encourage the University of Winnipeg student body to come out to pray for the families of the Orlando shooting and stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community, as well challenge the Islamophobia in you’re own circles when talking about this horrific tragedy.
Statement written by Jacq Pelland, UWSA LGBTQ Director & Sadie-Phoenix Lavoie, UWSA Vice-President External Affairs on behalf of the UWSA and Board of Directors