Orlando. We associate the city with many things. Disney World. Universal Studios. Epcot. Now, we associate it with death.
I’m sitting here, unable to sleep. My head screams and my heart cries. According to the last report I saw, 49 people are dead and 53 injured. Their crime? Being gay.
I’m a gay man. I have a tattoo on my left arm that, among other things, expresses my pride in who I am. This massacre in Orlando reminds me that my tattoo alone could potentially get me killed. All based on what one person’s twisted mind conceives. If I had a boyfriend and held his hand in public, we’d risk our lives doing so. When I was dating my ex-boyfriend, over the course of a year we only kissed in public once. The reason is simple: Fear. This is the reality for homosexual couples, though some view it as merely hypothetical and being overly cautious.
Orlando takes these what-ifs and makes them painfully real. In an impossible to ignore tragedy, Omar Mateen entered the Pulse nightclub to commit the deadliest shooting in modern United States history. He killed 49 men and women and injured 53 more before being killed by police. The possible motivation is believed to have been anger over seeing two men kiss in public. Can you imagine being condemned to death for such an act? It may seem inconceivable, and it should be.
Orlando forces us to decide: Do we take a seat, or do we say, “Enough!” and stand up to this bigotry and hate. June 12, 2016 is now a day marked in history. Future generations will talk about this day. What remains unwritten is our response. Will “We the People” stand united once again? Throughout history there have been multiple events which called on the people of this great nation to stand and fight for what is right. Previous generations answered the call, and now it’s our turn.
Bear in mind, this isn’t an issue of religion. This is an issue of an extremist committing murder. If you wish to judge an entire religion or group of people, I suggest researching domestic terrorism and religion. I will not go into it because that is not my purpose here and I do not wish to take away from my message. The politicians already have that covered, using this tragedy to push their own agendas in less than 24 hours.
My purpose is to call for a rise from apathy. To appeal to the heart in each and every human being in this country. Even if you don’t like those of us in the LGBT community, hopefully you don’t think we all deserve to be murdered. Hopefully you aren’t reading this thinking that I deserve to be murdered. I choose to believe in the goodness within all of you. I am passionate, I am emotional. I am hoping my passion will reach the compassion in all of your hearts and compel you to add your voice to those now resounding across the country. Join those voices and make the sound deafening to all those who would do us harm.
Stand united. Today. Right now. Show the world that we will not tolerate such an atrocity. We are the United States of America – It’s time to act like it!
Spenser Vollmer is a KSU Senior majoring in Accounting and History.
Spenser began as an accounting major, graduating in Summer 2016, but discovered love of History and started that degree in Fall 2016. He said about himself, “Dream of one day being a writer. Usually quiet, but passionate about things that matter to me. As a gay man, that naturally includes the LGBT community. I do wish I could get my message not only to KSU, but to as many as possible beyond KSU’s borders.”