Despite being a member of the LGBTQ community, I have avoided getting involved or posting anything about Orlando because of it being such a touchy subject for so many. I will be silent no more!

I can not, and probably will not, ever be able to understand hate crimes and what drives them. I realize that people hate things they don’t understand or that are different, but to hate a person or a group of individuals for that is beyond understanding.

To hate someone for being gay is like saying you hate someone because of their hair, the color of their skin, the way a person talks while eating, or whatever other nit-picky minuscule difference that might separate the person next to you from yourself. It is stupid!

We are Americans! We all have to live together on this continent, much less this Earth. We must stop tearing ourselves apart and stop encouraging or instigating hate and crimes thereby associated. This hate must end! It starts and ends with us! We must stand up! We must unite against hatred. Otherwise, hatred will continue to win; it will continue to spread. Only when people stand up to their bullies does anything change. Those that are gay, I urge you to be proud! I urge you to yell it from the rooftops and don’t back down. We don’t want another Stonewall or Orlando massacre.

I don’t know about you, but when I was young, I was taught everyone is different. Everyone is unique. I was raised to believe that was something to treasure and value. Not something to hate.

What is wrong with this world, our society, and the culture of hate that has been so forcefully propagated?

My thoughts and prayers are with those in Orlando, but also my hopes. My hopes that this will be a call to arms, that this horrible incident will encourage hate to cease and for all of us together and individually to stand up and say, “No more!” For us to continue to live here, on this Earth, in this world, we must stop the violence! #PrayForOrlando #WeStandWithOrlando #StopTheViolence #StopTheHate #TogetherInLove