Our Statement on the Orlando Mass Shooting
A note of solidarity for the LGBTQIA community
As we spent this past weekend with our membership at our National Organizing Summit, we learned of the mass shooting at the Orlando Pulse Nightclub. Together, we mourned the loss and hurt felt all around in our LGBTQIA, Latinx, Muslim, and mental health communities. The heartbreak ricochets through our staff and board — who hold these identities, sometimes simultaneously — and our communities fighting for justice and love. Our hearts go out to the victims, survivors, and their families whose moment of celebrating pride turned into a nightmare. This senseless act of violence, which occurred on Loving Day and during Pride Month, which celebrates the courage of queer and trans people of color at the Stonewall Inn, has no place in our society. We are in deep mourning.
The National Network of Abortion Funds is in solidarity with the queer Latinx community, a community to which many of the victims belonged. As some politicians are searching to place blame for this event, Verónica Bayetti Flores, NNAF board co-President, clearly situates this tragedy in its broader context:
“The truth is that some of the primary actors of terrorism against LGBTQ people of color in this country are in fact much more homegrown: our legislatures and bodies of law enforcement. The victims of this weekend’s tragedy were celebrating the anniversary of a night when mostly queer and trans people of color – many of whom were Latinxs – fought back against discriminatory policing…The truth is that LGBTQ communities of color endure violence in some of the same ways heterosexual communities of color do more generally, but often with a particular queer or trans experience that complicates standard narratives of both LGBTQ or Latinx suffering. LGBTQ Latinxs are victims of brutal police mistreatment; we are detained by immigration officials and tortured in immigration detention; we are deported into violent situations often created or exacerbated by U.S. foreign policy, all of which are complicated by our queer and trans identities.”
The National Network of Abortion Funds is also in solidarity with Muslims — queer Muslims living at the intersection of identities — who are being subjected to misplaced hatred and fear. As the Muslim Alliance for Sexual and Gender Diversity explained,
“This tragedy cannot be neatly categorized as a fight between the LGBTQ community and the Muslim community. As LGBTQ Muslims, we know that there are many of us who are living at the intersections of different communities and identities, and we recognize the complexity of these experiences. No community is a monolith, not Latinx, Muslim, queer or trans. We honor the lives lost and those impacted by this tragedy, the vast majority of whom are Latinx. We stand in solidarity with communities of color and all who fight for the collective right to pursue lives of dignity and self-determination, without fear of harm.
We reject attempts to perpetuate hatred against our LGBTQ communities as well as our Muslim communities. We ask all people to resist the forces of division and hatred, and to stand against homophobia and transphobia, as well as against Islamophobia and anti-Muslim bigotry.”
imi rashid, our Operations and Finance Director, illustrated this intersection during an interview with NPR, stating:
“When I first heard the news, the fact that it was a gay club, it felt personal in a lot of ways. Gay clubs are places we go to to find community and to express ourselves, have a safe space, we go to dance, and just really feel at home in many ways. The fact that a gay nightclub was targeted felt really heavy, especially being a queer Muslim myself…Time and time again, when this happens, the question of Islam keeps coming up. There is no religious justification anywhere in Islam for mass shootings of any one let alone a group of people. The connection being made between the mass shooting and Islam is unfair. There are people in this country blowing up abortion clinics, shooting people in movie theaters, and we never look to their religion. I don’t understand why we must focus on this shooter’s religion except that there’s rampant Islamophobia happening post-9/11…[We need to examine] how effective FBI surveillance really is, breaking up families…Why not step up surveillance of people who buy guns instead of targeting a specific identity group of people? [Focusing on religion] is putting to the side that so many families in Orlando are grieving. Black and brown bodies are experiencing similar surveillance [around] immigration. We really need to pay attention to the fact that there are people who are really hurting right now…it’s really crucial for us to center those stories.”
We cannot ignore the intersections that lie at the heart of this tragedy. We, as a nation, cannot use extremist ideology to deny someone their rights, healthcare, or the use of a bathroom with one breath, and then wonder why someone would think it’s okay to violently murder them in the next. Our struggles are intertwined. As Yas Ahmed, our Foundation Support Officer, insightfully notes, “It is time we lift up the connections that our lives depend on—time to have the conversation that denounces police and vigilante violence and makes explicit linkages between White supremacy and racial and religious profiling based on perceived gender or sexual identity, faith, race and immigration status. There are those among us who know that the path forward means embracing spaciousness, not scarcity and fear.” We must move forward together.
In the face of unrelenting violence, we will not stop loving, celebrating, and affirming our place, and our right to take up space, in the world. We will continue to imagine “a world where my body is free through activism-driven science fiction, the system set things up with discriminatory gun control laws,” as Bianca Campbell, our Movement Building Coordinator, writes, inspired by Octavia’s Brood. Now is the time to come together as a larger community and to hold one another up, to love and protect one another, and to become more deeply committed to the liberation of all those oppressed. We will continue to fight for the ability to exist and thrive. We will continue to love. We will never stop.
Also see the heartfelt statements from abortion funds in our network: