This collection of words grew out of a lack of words, out of stunned silences and stifled prayers, out of hysterical, wordless sobs and the empty pit of grief. This issue is our collective reaction to the murder of 49 patrons of Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida on the night of June 12th, and came about from a conversation that I had with our Social Media Coordinator, Kolleen Carney. We both felt helpless in the face of such evil, and I decided that we could, at the very least, pay tribute to the victims, seek solutions to the violence, and send our Patreon donations for this month to the families of the fallen.
Then, as we scrambled to complete an issue in a just over a month, the world continued to set itself on fire. Two weeks after Orlando, terrorists bombed the Atatürk Airport in Turkey, killing 44 people. On July 3rd, a staggering 325 people were killed in bombings across Baghdad. On July 14th, 84 people were killed by a terrorist who drove a truck into a crowd celebrating Bastille Day in Nice, France. Closer to home, the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philandro Castile at the hands of police officers stoked the fires of racial unrest, and a peaceful protest in Dallas was cut short by a gunman attacking and killing five police officers, the most to die while in the field since September 11, 2001.
Something has to change, the world has to heal and grieve, but how do we grieve with so little space between tragedies? The problem is not guns, is not religion, is not mental health, which is to say that it's ALL of those things, and more—a spreading desperation, a feeling that something at the very core of our lives is hollow. As these attacks continue, we are increasingly aware that we live in a violent world, and it says a lot about American privilege that it’s taken us this long to realize it.
The Pulse shooting hit home for me in a different way, because I am both bisexual and of Latin heritage, and so to see an LGBTQ club targeted on Latin night made the violence personal in a way that I hadn’t felt with other mass shootings. That, in turn, led me to question that impulse—why did it take that kind of direct identification to propel me into action, to make me feel driven to give back to the communities torn apart by these senseless acts? The honest answer is a mixture of cowardice and ignorance. Ignorance, as in a deliberate ignoring of other’s pain to justify centering on my own, and cowardice in not stepping up before to say that I, myself, am a member of this community that’s being attacked.
The money that we, as an organization, are able to send the families of the victims may be little, and the words of hope and rage and fear that we share with you, our readers, may only be relevant to our small community or writers and artists, but if we each add our voice to that collective, we become something far greater—a force that can turn back this tide of global hatred. What we can’t afford to do is turn away.
So we have this platform, and this is part of what we can do with it, but through social media, each of YOU has a platform as well, and that means that each of you has a voice. So join this conversation with us, because this world belongs to all of us.
The header image of each of these posts are in black and white, because these days it feels like all color has been drained from the world, but we’ve made one exception—the faces of those who died at Pulse are shown in color, not only to pay tribute to the lifeblood that once coursed through their veins, but to remind us of their diversity and courage. In death, as in life, they represent the best of us.
Our Patreon donations for this month will be forwarded to the official Pulse Victims Fund. Please consider a donation of your own.