Four years ago today, a gunman entered the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, and committed one of the most devastating acts of hate we've seen in our nation.
Forty-nine people were killed and 53 others wounded in the attack on the LGBTQ and Latinx communities. We grieve for their families and friends. And, we honor them by showing solidarity with the LGBTQ and Latinx communities and continuing the fight against hate.
The Pulse murders occurred during Pride Month in a nightclub that acted as a haven for LGBTQ people in Orlando to celebrate their whole selves. Anti-LGBTQ hate groups and some members of the radical right, in a sickening display of bigotry, praised the gunman after the attack.
It’s clear that the LGBTQ community remains under threat — the 2019 SPLC Year in Hate and Extremism report showed a nearly 43% spike in anti-LGBTQ hate groups. Groups that vilify the LGBTQ community, the report found, represented the fastest-growing sector among hate groups in 2019, rising from 49 in 2018 to 70 the following year. Much of this growth has taken place among groups at the grassroots level, a surge possibly fueled by continued anti-LGBTQ sentiment and policy emanating from government officials.
The anti-LGBTQ hate groups that we list often couch their opposition to LGBTQ rights in harmful rhetoric and pseudoscience that demonizes LGBTQ people as threats to children, society and often public health. They have also fortified their influence over policy decisions and mainstream culture in recent years. LGBTQ hate even has a home in the halls of the White House: The Trump administration has welcomed members of these hate groups who have designed new, oppressive policies.
The president himself, despite once promising to be a “real friend” to the LGBTQ community, has fully embraced anti-LGBTQ hate groups and their agenda of dismantling federal protections and resources for LGBTQ people.
What’s more, our country has seen a disturbing rise in institutional bias and threats to the LGBTQ community. People of color are especially at risk. Violence against transgender and gender nonconforming people of color is rising each year, and it’s on all of us to take a stand against hate.
In remembrance of those who were killed at Pulse, we must commit, neighbor to neighbor, to standing up for each other’s civil and human rights. That’s how we will continue to grow a national movement against anti-LGBTQ hate – and hate wherever it lives – in America.
Photo by AP Images / John Raoux