How to Stay United: The Orlando Tragedy

Another violent incident that showcases America's blind views on gun control. 

Saturday night, a gunman used an assault rifle and began shooting inside Orlando's Pulse nightclub, a popular gay club. 50 have been reported dead, and over 50 have been injured, while the shooter himself has been pronounced dead (cause of death was suicide). People from all walks of life tragically had their hopes and dreams cut short. News coverage spread worldwide, and social media users voiced their concerns and condolences to those affected by the tragedy. Even television stations such as VH1 and BET changed their logo to the LGBT flag with the hashtag #PrayForOrlando as a way of showing solidarity with the victims. This is one of the biggest acts of violence towards the LGBT community in history. 

Many discussions have arisen from this event; one of course being the topic of gun control and the other being the lack of light shed on mental health in the US. Another issue that is often brought up was LGBT rights and safety. When that was brought up, the relationship between the LGBT community and the African-American community. While this has been a subject talked about throughout the years, this incident has brought it back up in a vigorous and timely manner. When a Twitter user posted a tweeted saying: 

"Dear heterosexual black men, will you stand up for/with homosexual black men the way they stand up for you when you're senselessly killed?"

The tweet that sparked the outrage on social media. Since then, Camm Alexander has announced he has received messages via Facebook about this tweet.

The tweet that sparked the outrage on social media. Since then, Camm Alexander has announced he has received messages via Facebook about this tweet.

Within minutes, the tweet went viral, with over 300 retweets, many replies, and it even spreading through Instagram and Facebook, causing more debates. While many agreed with the tweet, others brought the message of the tweet to the attention, asking why is the black community (specifically black males) always questioned when it comes to LGBT issues? For years, especially now that the "conscious" movement is at an all time high, people have wondered if conscious people really think about the black LGBT members when constructing their movements. Many have also asked if organizations such as Black Lives Matter, consider black LGBT members when they are marching and protesting. While this isn't the first time someone has made a tweet or status similar to this, I think now it's time to break the notion of black homophobia and black silencing on LGBT issues.

I will be the first to admit, there are homophobic people in the African-American community, but I don't think we should punish every African-American because of a few bad apples. There will also be good and evil within every community. Within a few years of witnessing the discussion of this topic, I've noticed that people often talk about this subject with more emotions than facts. It seems easy to talk about how much the black community need to do and how the black community is so silent, but no one ever takes that topic to a deeper level, in my opinion. There are issues and actions that hold up back as a community, that often isn't seen in the light, and I believe it will be simple to change. 

There is an unbalanced ability to express concern and question motives. It seems to be fine to express the concern of silenced African Americans, but when concern is expressed about the silencing of many LGBT members (black members included as well), about issues of race and misogyny in the gay and straight community, it becomes a problem. It's almost as if we can't talk about it. I've witnessed people become defensive and immersed in their emotions instead of what's really going on in the world. These are sensitive subjects to discuss but at times, one or both parties have to rise above what they feel. 

We can't progress as a community if we keep finding ways to divide us more. Just as you or anyone else is allowed to call out black men/people who are silent about homophobia, it shouldn't be a surprise when someone is called out for being silent on race issues and police brutality. Myself, and others that I've talked to have witnessed numerous people being vocal and strong about gay rights, gay marriage, and homophobia. When the attention is turned to police brutality, racial injustice, etc. those same people are often the ones who ask, "why does everything have to be a race issue?", or will join along and try to justify it. It’s concerning because it shows others that you don’t want justice or equality, you instead want the privilege. It’s also concerning because there are those who see it happen and say/do nothing. Your silence makes you just as guilty as the ones forming their mouth to speak such negativity. 

I wrote this piece not out of maliciousness, but as a way to start a pathway to a new beginning. The Orlando tragedy is not an excuse to criticize other minority groups with questions of authenticity. In a time in which we need togetherness, it’s counterproductive to use an incident as a platform to belittle others and make it a competition of “who cares about other issues more”. With that being said, we should be careful about being counterproductive especially when as a black man, I can recall numerous issues and events the LGBT community has been silent and non-existent on. If you’re going to call out heterosexual black men for allegedly not speaking out, making sure you’re calling out the other heterosexual men in other communities as well. Hell, call out the people in your own community, or make sure you have your ducks in a row. Remember, unity starts with you.