For Orlando 

It’s a hard day for our community- it’s been one year since the Pulse nightclub attack. Through the devastation we came together, rallied world wide and pledged our commitment to building a stronger, more unified community in the face of hatred. That gut wrenching feeling after hearing the news that night hasn’t left me. It looms every time I pop into a gay bar, club or any queer gathering.  But as we’ve demonstrated time and again, backing down is never an option.

It’s something I battled not just since Orlando, but since my transition from a severe closet with shady relationships, through a longing for acceptance in a divided community and the fight to be treated as a human first and foremost and not less than because of who I love and the colour of my skin. A struggle that’s especially real in Toronto where the queer community remains at odds over last Pride’s Black Lives Matter protest, resulting in amongst other things, the removal of uniformed police officers due to the oppressive history and reality between cops and marginalized members of our community.

The healing started from Orlando feels decimated by the ignorance of many who’ve proudly asserted to boycotting the festival instead of attempting to have an open enough mind to engage in sensible dialogue about the situation. Instead, it’s a messy blame game of insensitive Trump like comments that just make the situation more tense than it already is. That same ignorance and intolerance already caused so much suffering dating back to the birth of Pride- Stonewall Riots, the bathhouse raids right here in our own city, the Pulse attack, the concentration camps in Chechnya so much more that we probably never hear about or that’s been forgotten.

 The best way to honour the precious lives lost in Orlando is to truly pull together, support and love one another despite differences and build a community we and the generation to follow can be proud of, much like the generation before us who fought for Pride, HIV treatment, marriage equality and so much more. One inclusive of each and every one of us regardless of race, gender identity, HIV status, social status and all the other shit we use as barriers to love, accept and support each other. We can’t demand or expect love and acceptance when we don’t do it for each other.

Salute our fallen angels, never allow hate to win.

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