Stop the Hate
We Need to Evolve
I was taken aback when I woke to the news that 50 people had perished and a like number had been injured in another shooting rampage, this time in Orlando, Florida, home of Disneyworld. I became more distressed to learn that all or most of the victims were “LGBT.” That means “Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, or Transgender.” The shooting was not only the greatest mass murder in American history since 9/11, it was a hate crime. I have railed against violence in many emails and posts but today I must express my abject horror, anger, and frustration to the shootings in Orlando, and particularly to the targeting of specific groups.
We must evolve from stereotyping people who are different from the mainstream, but who cause no harm. In fact, many make huge contributions to society. Stereotyping makes minority groups more vulnerable to bullying and other harassment. We as a society must evolve from such a mentality.
Evolution does not just happen. One must make a concerted effort to examine their own behavior and eliminate harmful or bigoted behavior toward minority groups. It is often not easy or obvious.
I grew up in a steel town, a suburb of Pittsburgh. We all knew who the “queer” was. He acted in an effeminate manner, drove a new pink Chrysler, and word was, spent time in Pittsburgh at one of “those kinds of places.” I later learned the met a violent death at the hands of a group of young men who somehow felt threatened by his non-violent behavior.
My own evolution was prompted by several profound experiences. I was never violent toward members of the LGBT community but I told “gay” jokes and mocked those with sexual differences. But I entered a work environment in which many of my fellow workers lived, as the supervisor shared with me, “an alternative lifestyle.” And until I was advised who “was” and who “wasn’t,” I was unable to tell. Some were attractive, some not, some creative, some not, some intellectual, others not. In other words, aside from their private sexual or gender preferences, they were the same as the rest of the work force.
The movement toward equality quickly took root in America, moving toward marriage equality, gender pay equity, racial equality, etc. The changes came fast and furious, but not without some dinosaurs unable to change their views and irrational fears. Occasionally those fears boil over and they do harm to innocent victims, like Matthew Shepherd, the gay man murdered and strung up in Wyoming, and many other hate crimes including the shootings in Orlando.
The hate must stop. We must evolve. When we embrace one another, particularly those who are different, we all become stronger, more productive, more righteous, and better human beings. We become stronger by building bridges, not walls.
May the victims rest in peace. May the families and survivors find solace. My thoughts and prayers are with you.
Andrew R. Nixon