I Stand With Love

Guillaume Paumier
Guillaume Paumier

This morning I woke up and like millions of other people, I was shocked and devastated to hear that the deadliest mass shooting in US history took place in the early hours of the morning at Pulse nightclub.

Around 2 in the morning in Orlando, Florida, Omar Mateen stormed the gay nightclub with an assault rifle, a handgun, and another device and opened fire. He held club patrons hostage until 5 AM before being taken down in a shootout with police. He was a licensed security officer with a concealed weapons permit in the state of Florida and had been previously listed as a person of interest with the the FBI.

50 people were reported dead with 53 more seriously injured following the attack.

People are calling it an act of terrorism, Islamic this Islamic that.

But let’s call it what it really was.

This was a direct, methodical, organized attack on marginalized, LGBT+ people.

This was a hate crime. 

I do not claim to know Omar Mateen’s religion or political ideology. And frankly, I don’t think either of those things matter. I do think that this is yet another tragic example of how little we’ve been doing in regards to solving the issue of gun violence in America but I think there is another problem at hand.

And Omar Mateen’s political alignment and religious beliefs are not the problem.

Because I 100% believe that he localized his attack towards members of the LGBT community because their mere existence made him angry. His own father said that his homophobic reaction to seeing two men kissing was to be filled with rage. So who or whatever he prayed to in the morning or at night, and who or whatever he believed politically in doesn’t really matter.

What matters is that he was hateful.

And that’s a problem.

Hatred is a poison. It seeps into you and attacks your heart and your soul and wraps itself around you until it calls the shots. Hatred solves nothing. It ruins everything.

Hatred kills.

How awful is that? That your hatred for someone just breathing the same air as you and being different sparks that much hate in your heart?

I grew up in a place where being gay or different was absolutely abnormal. I grew up listening to my godmother talk about gay men and use words like “disgusting” and “sinful” to describe them. I grew up listening to people at my family’s church preach about going to hell for being interested in someone of the same sex and where someone simply dressing outside of the gender norm was ostracized and talked about in the nastiest of ways. I grew up being told to not mention my best friend’s sexuality when I came home from college around specific family members.  I still get into heated “discussions” when I go back because it’s not something that understood or accepted but at 26 I refuse to tiptoe around their ignorance anymore.

But it always made (and continues to make) my stomach turn.

Just thinking about it now makes my throat tighten and my heartbeat start to elevate.

And why is that? Why is my body’s reaction to this sort of talk, this warped way of thinking, and ideology to instantly reject it?

Because hatred shouldn’t be natural, ignored, or accepted. It should make you physically uncomfortable. 

But when presented with this hate I do not think the answer is to respond with hate. Fighting hate with hate gets nowhere. And giving into hate is exactly what a hateful person wants. They want you too to be poisoned. They want your soul to be as tainted as their own.

Which is why I reject hate, and completely, fully, totally, and unapologetically embrace love.

I stand with those who love.

I stand with those who are unafraid to be themselves. I stand with those who look into the face of hatred and bigotry and refuse to become like that. I stand with people who say, “This is who I am and I love myself.” I stand with everyone who has been told they are not okay and they are not wanted and they are not normal but continue to march and fight for equality and the ability to love not only themselves, but whoever else.

I do not stand with hate.

I will never stand with hate.

I stand with love.

And today, in the face of utter tragedy, on a day where “deadliest mass shooting” is ringing in my ears, weighing heavy on my heart, and making so many people that I love afraid, it is more important than ever to align myself (and yourself) with love.

Love is louder than hate. Love is more powerful than hate. Love will do MORE than hate.

Hatred spits, but Love welcomes. Hatred is exhausting, but Love is rejuvenating. Hatred belittles, but Love is uplifting. Hatred judges, but Love is open. Hatred ruins, but Love rebuilds.

Hatred kills, but Love survives.

I stand with love.

I stand with love.

(One more time for the people in the back…)

I stand with love.

And I pray that you do too. Thought Catalog Logo Mark


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