#StandWithOrlando #EndGunViolence #BanAssaultRifles #LoveIsLove

In America, there are states where transgendered people may go to jail if they enter the bathroom meant for the gender they identify with. Isn't it ironic how transgendered people are banned from using bathrooms in which they are comfortable in using, and yet we aren't banned from selling, buying, or owning deadly assault rifles? 

Many of us woke up this Sunday morning to learn about the mass shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Omar Mateen, the gunman, who had pledged allegiance to ISIS, used an AR-15-style assault rifle and a handgun to kill 49 innocent people and injure 53 others.

The hate and intolerance for the LGBT community that the gunman harbored bred senseless violence. He rained bullets down on innocent people who just wanted to have fun and party the night away. These people, these Americans, were our brothers and sisters, friends, and lovers. Our lack of "common sense" gun measures had failed them, and allowed for the "worst mass shooting in United States history" to occur today, June 12th, 2016. 

“This massacre is therefore a further reminder of how easy it is for someone to get their hands on a weapon that lets them shoot people in a school or a house of worship or a movie theater or a nightclub,” he said. “We have to decide if that’s the kind of country we want to be. To actively do nothing is a decision as well.”-President Obama

President Obama, the answer is no. I don't want to live in fear. I don't want to lose my son one day in a mass shooting at his elementary school, or end up hiding in a bathroom with ten others at the university I work in because one of our students had gone postal. I don't want to even think about this, but everyday, I think about this. I look left and right on the NYC subway platforms and trains. I don't walk alone at night in my own neighborhood. Recently, my husband and I were afraid that my coworker would shoot me in the head for reporting on him for bullying me at work. I can't not think about all of this when the US leads in mass shootings across the world, and that an immature hate-baiter like Trump could potentially lead our nation come January 20th, 2017. 

We hear this devastating news and we react, grieve, and mourn. We cry, we reflect, and we pray. We tweet that we #StandWithOrlando and that we want to #EndGunViolence. And then we go silent. Days of "peace" go by and we forget. We move on. 

We can't move on. We need to do more. We need to teach our young that #LoveIsLove and that life is precious. No matter what our beliefs are, we have no right to take away another person's life. No religion teaches us that it's okay to kill. We need to stop spreading hate, stop buying, selling, and owning guns, and stop doing nothing. Change starts with us, with you, and it can start today. 

This is Stanley Almodovar III. He was one of the 50 people the gunman took away from this world. He had friends, family, dreams, hopes, hobbies, and passions. A favorite color. A favorite food. He could be your neighbor, your best friend, your son, your brother. Does it matter who his lovers are? Really? His life mattered as much as yours and mine, and if the gunman had no way of getting his weapons in America, Stanley Almodovar III and the 49 other victims would be alive today, perhaps with severe hangovers, sore throats, and tired muscles. Rest in peace, Stanley Almodovar III...