Nearly a year ago the LGBT community awoke to shattering news. Over 100 members of the community had been shot at Pulse nightclub in Orlando.
Over the next week memorials will be held across the country and blood banks will offer special anniversary T-shirts to those who donate in commemoration and life will go on.
But is that what we need?
Yes, remembering is important. Yes, encouraging people to donate blood saves lives. Yes, the community needs to be together. However, do these actions move us forward?
Even as the fallout of Pulse was being assessed, The New York Times reported members of the LGBT community are the most likely group in the U.S. to be the victim of a hate crime.
Eleven members of the transgender community have been the victims of hate crimes in 2017 thus far and only one arrest has been made, according to the Human Rights Campaign.
The Daily Beast reported last week that bullying due to sexual orientation or gender identity hasn’t decreased since the 1990s.
One out of six high school-aged members of the community seriously consider suicide, according to the Trevor Project, a nonprofit organization that provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBT teens and young adults.
These are the facts our society must currently face. Whether you support the LGBT community or not, this information should embarrass us as a society and inspire change in how we treat each other.
While memorials are important to the healing process after a tragic incident, these events over the next week need to serve as a catalyst for positive change.
Pulse happened a year ago on Monday. We’ve had our mourning period with time to be scared and time to recuperate. Now we must push for change and strive to protect one another regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
We need to send a message that even if not everybody agrees with the LGBT community, it has a right to exist. This is the time when voices need to be heard.
The Pulse shooting is a lasting scar on the community. It will serve as our generation’s Stonewall Riot, as a wound that will never fully heal. However, it has had time to scab.
The wound doesn’t hurt as much now and is still there as a reminder of what happened. It’s a reminder that more work is necessary to ensure safety for people simply minding their own business.
There’s no one simple path to take to cause change. Everybody should do what they can or feel the need to, but something needs to give.
The U.S. broadcasts itself as the land of the free and the home of the brave, but members of our society are hurting the brave people of the LGBT community striving for freedom. Those causing harm don’t represent all people in our country, but until change is implemented we all bear the shame of their actions.
Miki Shine is a senior majoring in mass communications.