Update: In a press conference Monday morning, Orlando police confirmed that 49 people had been killed and 53 injured early Sunday morning at Orlando's Pulse gay nightclub in the deadliest mass shooting in recent U.S. history. After opening fire on the crowd, an individual named Omar Mateen had taken hostages and was ultimately killed in a stand-off with police; Mateen had called 911 and pledged allegiance to the Islamic State shortly before the massacre. Orlando mayor Buddy Dyer declared a state of emergency, and the massacre is being investigated as an act of terrorism.
The victims' names were released by the city of Orlando on its website as their next of kin were informed. Here are some ways to help the Orlando shooting victims and their loved ones; you can also donate to the victims' fund, as well as express your solidarity with the LGBTQ community by posting a tribute online. You can also attend a vigil near you to honor the victims.
Earlier: Early Sunday morning, a shooting at Orlando's gay nightclub Pulse became the deadliest mass shooting in American history. The coverage of the shooting, however, leaves much to be desired. In a number of news reports, the mention of the fact that Pulse is an LGBTQ club is mentioned sparingly, and almost as an afterthought. Unfortunately, many conversations about the event have shifted the focus such that one of the most important elements of the shooting and its target is effectively being erased.
The New York Times, for example, lead with: "After calling 911 to declare his allegiance to a terrorist group, a gunman here killed 50 people and wounded 53 in a gay nightclub early Sunday"; after that, the only other reference besides a note that the GLBT Community Center of Central Florida would be offering grief counseling, called it “the worst terrorist attack on American soil since Sept. 11, and the deadliest attack in the nation’s history on a specifically gay gathering.”
But as Kevin O’Keeffe, Arts Editor for Mic, wrote out in his powerful series of tweets, “In a gay club — a space for us! — 20+ members of the LGBTQ community are slain. During Pride month.” To ignore this fact would be an enormous mistake — a mistake which is exactly what all these pieces of art work to prevent. Many pieces of art in support of Orlando have emerged online in the hours since the shooting help to rectify this problem. These powerful images are being shared time and time again, and for good reason: They do what so much of the media coverage of the shooting is not.
The images and art try to counter the erasure of LGBTQ people that still occurs so frequently in our society, and while it is obviously essential at all times to keep this important part of the conversation going, it is more important now than ever. Memes, cartoons, and pieces of art have been making their way across social media in response to the Pulse shooting. They have become part of how we process horrific events, how we show solidarity and support, and how we mourn — and in the case of Pulse, they also accomplish something else.
These pieces of art, many of which are posted under the “pray for Orlando” hashtag, do more than express what our words can’t in the aftermath of such a terrible event: Although it has not yet been determined whether the shooting was a hate crime (police are describing it as a terrorist incident), the art makes it impossible to ignore the fact that it was an LGBTQ club that was targeted.
The ROYGBIV flag — the rainbow flag named for the order of its colors (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet) — has been a powerful symbol for the LGBTQ community and allies since the late ‘70s. The art circulating the internet in support of Orlando is covered in rainbows. It all calls for more love, less hate — or more love, no hate.
As Mic.com staff writer Mathew Rodriguez pointed out on Twitter, this was a very specific shooting — “a shooting at a Latino night at a gay bar during Immigrant Heritage Month and Pride Month.” Furthermore, Rodriguez continued, what we absolutely cannot ignore is “the reality that in America you can kill a room full of queers with ease because of [the] 2nd [Amendment].” And that cannot stand. Here is some of the powerful art making the rounds.
Words Of Wisdom
A Joining Of Symbols
Spread Love, Not Hate
We Stand Together
Do More Than Pray
Prayers are all well and good, but as Felicity Huffman's Facebook post points out, we need to do more than pray — and, thankfully, many are. OneBlood recently announced that they are overwhelmed with people wanting to donate blood; if you want to donate, they suggest making an appointment and coming back in the following days. Giving to the victims, helping at Orlando's hospitals, and creating memorial services are all also much-needed ways to help the Orlando victims and their loved ones.