Jun 14, 2016 10:13AM

How To Support The LGBTQI Community In The Wake Of Orlando Shooting

Love is love is love.

The shooting that occured at gay nightclub Pulse in Orlando, Florida, is the worst in modern US history. It left 49 people dead and many more wounded, and is a horrific reminder of the very real threat that members of the LGBTQI community face every day.

According to reports, the shooter Omar Mateen had a history of voicing hatred of minorities, gay people and Jews — and the fact that he targeted a gay nightclub on its Latino-themed night makes the shooting a hate crime. The New York Times calls it "the worst act of terrorism on American soil since Sept. 11, 2001, and the deadliest attack on a gay target in the nation's history." 

In the wake of the tragedy, cities all over the world have have rallied to pay their respects to those who lost their lives. Candlelight vigils were held in Sydney last night in Taylor Square and Newtown, while the Sydney Harbour Bridge was lit up with a rainbow and Sydney Town Hall was lit pink as an act of solidarity and a reminder that we will never be divided by hate. 

While it is hard not to feel completely overwhelmed in the face of such an incomprehensible tragedy, there are real world things that you can do to help. Here is an brief list:

Donate blood

Straight allies, to the front. Since there are laws restricting gay men from donating blood, it's up to LQBTQI allies to step in. If you are in Florida, OneBlood is the place to do that (keep in mind you will need to check your eligibility and make an appointment). OneBlood is particularly looking for donations of rarer bloodtypes such as O negative, O positive and AB plasma.

Donate money

Florida's primary LGBTQI advocacy group, Equality Florida, has set up a GoFundMe page to benefit the victims and families of the Orlando shooting. The organisation is working with a team of attorneys and experts, including the National Center for Victims of Crime to ensure funds are distributed correctly and help those who are in need.

Additionally, LGBTQI advocacy group Planting Peace has launched a CrowdRise campaign to help cover the victims' medical costs, as well as funeral costs. You can donate to that here

Support gun control

No matter where you are in the world, make sure you use your voting power to support gun control. In America, Everytown For Gun Safety and the Coalition To Stop Gun Violence are good places to start. 

Speak up

Remember that violent hate crimes do not exist in a vaccuum. Hateful actions are preceded by hateful words, so do not tolerate even the mildest homophobia, racism, or misogyny. If something comes across as bigotry, address it immediately. Start a diaolgue, because silence can be read as permission and by remaining silent you become complicit. 

If you identify as LGBTQI and feel that speaking with someone might be helpful, national helpline/online support service QLife Australia is open every evening from 3pm-12am or you can call on 1800 184 527.

Photo: @sydneywaternews

Nadia Bailey