June 15 2016 12:22 AM

LGBTQ community gathers to mourn Orlando tragedy

LAHR President Alysa Hodgson reads a statement from the board saying the Orlando tragedy shouldn't be used to condemn Muslims.
Todd Heywood/City Pulse

Brought together by LAHR, scores of members of the LGBTQ community gathered at the steps of the Capitol at 6 p.m. Sunday to mourn the losses in the Orlando shooting rampage. Cast members of Riverwalk Theatre's production of "Rent" performed "Seasons of Love," Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero spoke and the Rev. Nicolette Saragusa of the First Congregational United Church of Christ in Grand Ledge led a prayer. LAHR President Alysa Hodgson read the following statement:

“The Lansing Association for Human Rights joins Orlando and our nation in mourning the loss of so many from our LGBTQ family. This tragedy, the deadliest shooting spree in U.S. history, was both an act of terrorism and an act of hate against LGBTQ people.

“We want to make clear, this can be an act of hate and an act of terror, and not something that implicates all Muslims — simultaneously. LAHR cannot support the use of this tragedy, our lost LGBTQ lives, to fuel anti-Muslim agendas and the irrational fears of those who are different from us. Terrorism has no skin color or religion. When we see it implied otherwise we will call that what it is, opportunism and ignorance, and it has no place in our mourning and does nothing to help a nation heal.

“A safe space, in a nation without protections, was obliterated by the hate and ignorance of one. Yet, the tragedy was inspired and nurtured by the ignorance of many. This is why LGBTQ people are scared, still. Hate delivered to us as violence may not always come 50 casualties at one time but it comes consistently and with an increasingly intensity as progress for LGBTQ people continues. This nation must grant us our freedom, and equality, and safety in public spaces. It is past time to create proper recourse in the justice system that acknowledges the targets on our backs and protects us from hate crimes, so that we can keep our families, friends, and partners close and stop losing them. Until then we aren't actually finding safe spaces when we come together as an LGBTQ community even if we are finding comfort in each other. Finding community with each other isn't enough and shouldn't have to be. These losses are the fault of homophobia, transphobia and biphobia — and marriage doesn't protect us from those plagues of ugliness.

“We now, as always, have much to talk about as a community and that includes hate, terrorism, and how well our governments are doing in their job to protect the most vulnerable. That discussion will, on another day, include guns and how easy it has become for irrational fears and ignorance to become tragedies we all mourn. We hold onto hope that we can someday trade violence for understanding with the help of a nation that is safer in general. Today, we ask only that we mourn, together and commit to building toward a safer day and society starting immediately.”