Standing with the LGBT community: our response to the Orlando shooting

By now, most of us have already heard the news of the deadliest mass shooting to take place on American soil.

Forty-nine people were shot and killed with over 50 others injured while attending a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, last week.

Immediately after the news broke, social media users were quick to debate issues like gun violence, Islamophobia and ISIS.

However, what happened that Sunday morning was a domestic terror attack targeting the LGBT community — the roots were homophobia that still heavily exist in our society, and everyone has a responsibility to change that if we do not want to see more tragedies like this in the future.

Society is improving. And more and more people are fighting for equality and kindness toward the LGBT community, but there is still a lot more that needs to be done. As much as there were people showing love and support toward the victims and the LGBT community, hate and bigotry were just as present.

Utah Lt. Governor Spencer Cox addressed a vigil the day after the attack giving a beautiful apology for previously not treating the LGBT community with the kindness, dignity, respect and love they deserve. He also asked two important questions.

“And I am speaking now to the straight community,” Cox said. “How did you feel when you heard that 49 people had been gunned down by a self-proclaimed terrorist? That’s the easy question. Here is the hard one: Did that feeling change when you found out the shooting was at a gay bar at 2 a.m. in the morning? If that feeling changed, then we are doing something wrong.”

The fact that this shooting happened at a gay bar is relevant, and many people did not want to admit that homophobia was the cause because, really, who wants to share a trait with someone who just killed 49 people? But it is these types of dismissals that promote a culture of hate and mistreatment toward the LGBT community.

Chad Griffin, head of the Human Rights Campaign, said the gunman was somehow conditioned to believe that the LGBT community deserves to be massacred, and that it was society, not just ISIS, who conditioned that belief.

“He was hearing it from politicians and radical anti­-LGBT extremists here in our own country,” Griffin said. “Every time we see legislation that puts a target on the back of LGBT people; every time a preacher spews hate from the pulpit; every time a county clerk says that acknowledging our relationships violates her ‘religious beliefs’ — it sends a signal that LGBT people should be treated differently, and worse.”

This message is also present in everyday comments, such as every time someone says, “I don’t care if they’re gay, I just don’t want to see it” or “This TV show is so good — did they really need to have a gay couple in it?” Any double standard between straight and gay couples sends a signal that gay people should be treated differently. People have a right to disagree with someone else’s lifestyle, but that’s the extent of their right.

To read comments from BYU-Idaho students that say things like “This was just a government conspiracy to promote the gay agenda” or “We can’t allow the LGBT movement to capitalize on this” is both shameful and disappointing. Capitalizing on what? The death and injuries of over 100 people in their community? Wanting to live their life without fearing murder because of who they love?

Sexual orientation is the second-largest motivator for hate crimes in the U.S., according to The Atlantic, and BYU is ranked one of the most unfriendly campuses for LGBT students in the U.S., according to The Princeton Review. The problem is definitely in Rexburg, too.

We believe it is long overdue to hate less and love more and remember the victims of the Orlando shooting whose basic right to life has been stolen from them forever.

“So may we leave today with a resolve to be a little kinder,” Cox said. “May we try to listen more and talk less. May we forgive someone that has wronged us. And perhaps, most importantly, try to love someone that is different than us. For my straight friends, might I suggest starting with someone who is gay.”

Regardless of religious or political convictions, opinions on homosexuality do not matter in this case because 49 people were killed due to their sexual orientation — and that is what matters.

While thoughts and prayers are appreciated, it is not enough to change the homophobic fabric that is woven in this country. Opening our minds, being unified as a country and changing our attitudes and respect for those who may live differently than you do, will.


'Standing with the LGBT community: our response to the Orlando shooting' have 21 comments

  1. June 23, 2016 @ 3:27 pm Boyd

    Radical. Islamic. Terrorism.
    Blaming anything else is crazy.


  2. June 24, 2016 @ 3:52 pm Christopher Corbett

    I am concerned with the callous disregard for God’s laws and religious liberty in this article. The lines between tolerance and outright acceptance are becoming blurred, and this is intentional on the part of the devil.

    1. It is debatable in itself whether or not they were killed because they were gay.
    2. Of course we should not react differently when we learn that it was a gay nightclub. For that very reason, we should not describe the victims as martyrs of some great and noble cause for their community. They should have dignity and we should have love for them because they are human beings, not because we promote their group.
    3. It does bother me when I like a TV show and a gay couple appears. It means I have a hard time, in good conscience, to show it to my children or friends, because it promotes a lifestyle that is contrary to God’s plan. There is no double standard. A gay relationship is inherently inferior because it is sinful and distances one from God, in a similar way to a straight couple living together and fornicating.
    4. It should bother everyone when someone is compelled to do something against their religious beliefs. (Why the scare quotes?)

    I have to wonder if you’re referring to the prophets and apostles when you talk about the evils of our “society” or our schools. Frankly I’m disappointed that BYUI allowed this to be published.


    • June 25, 2016 @ 9:36 pm Harper

      Christopher, Your concern needs to be with those families who do not have loved ones tonight because they were shot down by a psychopath. Our first commandment is to love God, the second to love each other. Nothing in this post suggests otherwise. Also, being gay isn’t a lifestyle (I don’t live a female lifestyle because I did not choose to be female. Same principle).


    • June 26, 2016 @ 2:28 pm Angry Faggot

      @Christopher Corbett: you and people like you deserve derision, scorn, and mockery because reason, evidence, and humanity do nothing in your small, dogmatic minds.


  3. June 25, 2016 @ 12:08 pm Denée Tyler

    I’m very proud of the BYUI Scroll for publishing this. Thank you.


  4. June 25, 2016 @ 12:50 pm Lori Davis

    This article is beautiful and I am so thankful as a mom of a gay son that you wrote this. Thank you!


  5. June 25, 2016 @ 1:09 pm Alyson deussen

    Thanks for writing this. Proud to see BYUI write this thoughtful article. We need more of it!!


  6. June 25, 2016 @ 1:11 pm Lisa Glad

    Sorry, Christopher Corbett and Boyd: These people were targeted BECAUSE they were at a Gay Nightclub. The shooter’s background is very complicated and only God knows what exactly was in his heart, ISIS or not. As the parent of two queer kids, these COULD have been MY KIDS. Yes, society is changing, and I am so grateful for these changes. I am working from within the church and my own community to CONTINUE these positive changes towards inclusion and acceptance. Our Savior taught two absolute commandments: Love God, and Love Thy Neighbor. Our country has a basis in Freedom OF Religion: you are free to choose YOUR religion but NOT to force it on someone else. God’s plan is bigger than you or I or any human being has any concept of; the harshness shown in Christopher’s post is part of what leads to not only happenings like this shooting, but also to suicides and desperation. I used to have the same attitude, but study and prayer and getting to know wonderful, spiritual, blessed LGBTQIA souls has opened MY heart to love and to leaving ALL JUDGMENT to the Lord alone. I will love and hug and stand by my queer kids–my own and ALL who need me.

    THANK YOU, BYUI for publishing this. This discussion needs to be continued in all locations, and hearts need to be opened.


  7. June 25, 2016 @ 1:53 pm Susan Mikesell

    This terrorist targeted LGBTQ people. For anyone to deny or gloss over that reveals bigotry they harbor no matter how much they deny it.
    I am so happy to see BYUI publish an editorial with an intelligent, insightful, and compassionate approach to what has been an ongoing tragedy. Yes, this incident was shocking in the sheer number of lives lost but LGBTQ people live in a constant state of threat. Thoughts and prayers do nothing unless attitudes and actions change. Let God judge each of us and our individual choices with the mercy and infinite knowledge He has of our hearts and lives. _Our_ responsibility on this earth is to learn to love others and help each other through this mortal journey. We fail that, we fail. Period.


  8. June 25, 2016 @ 1:55 pm Diane Talbot

    Thank you for publishing this. It is important.


  9. June 25, 2016 @ 2:32 pm Laurel Barham

    Thank you for bravely and eloquently stating the reality of the world we live in. I am impressed with all involved in getting this published, this is beautiful and important! We all learned in Primary that our Heavenly Father loves ALL of His children, thank you for sharing the love and bringing attention to this very important issue.


  10. June 25, 2016 @ 3:00 pm Olivia Meikle

    Thank you thank you thank you for this beautiful response. Moving our society toward love and away from hate and fear is the essence of what Christ taught.


  11. June 25, 2016 @ 7:05 pm Diane Oviatt

    As a Mama Dragon LDS mother with a gay son, I thank you for this compassionate, inclusive piece of journalism. Gives me hope that things are changing at your school.


  12. June 25, 2016 @ 9:41 pm Harper

    Thank you BYUI Scroll, and thank you Mike Reyes. I am a Mama Dragon, and I love my LGBTQ+ family. I am so impressed by the bravery reflected in this article. If it were up to me, it would receive as many accolades as possible.


  13. June 26, 2016 @ 7:57 am Laurie Miller

    As an alumna, I applaud your courage and ethics in publishing this editorial. I hope that students, faculty, and the community can take time to really consider how their actions or inaction towards the LGBTQ+ community deeply impacts real people and those who love them, for good or ill. This is the civil rights moment of our day. Which side of history will you be on?


  14. June 26, 2016 @ 1:18 pm Lyda Rose

    Thank you for this! As hearts soften the world will become a better place.


  15. June 26, 2016 @ 1:43 pm Stephanie Hales

    Thank you for calling for more than thoughts and prayers and for recognizing how much work can be done at BYU. This was so well written and full of love.


  16. June 26, 2016 @ 3:00 pm Tara

    Thank you for this beautiful article. It gives me hope that Love will always be greater than Fear.


  17. June 26, 2016 @ 6:46 pm Marianna

    Thank you for this brave piece! (I hope you don’t get fired!) I think people think they are being kind with love the sinner/hate the sin messages, but it is so damaging and devastating to be told that who God made us to be is sinful or bad. Keep up the good work of spreading LOVE!


  18. June 26, 2016 @ 10:56 pm Melody Manwaring

    Thank-you for the touching article. I have been thinking very much of a Book of Mormon scripture since the Orlando shooting talks of mourning with those who mourn and comforting those who stand in need of comfort. This is definitely a time to do that.


  19. June 26, 2016 @ 11:05 pm HS

    Thank you for this. It is needed and it is right. We have come a long way, but we still have a long way to go in accepting LGBT+ people as people worthy of the same dignity and respect that we demand for ourselves. Articles like this give me some hope that we may actually get there.


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