the voice and vision of a new generation
Image credit: Alex Schmider

Remember, resist, and #ampyourvoice: How to honor Pulse victims and make a difference in your community

June 12, 2018

As we approach the two-year mark of the tragic massacre that claimed the lives of 49 LGBTQ, Latinx, and young people at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, the gravity of gun violence remains alive in the collective conscious of young activists nationwide. Inspired and enraged by senseless acts of gun violence, young people are shifting the paradigm around gun control in the memory of those who have been killed at the hands of automatic assault weapons.

With youth activists leading the conversation around gun reform and social change, we are reminded that gun violence is an issue that disproportionately victimizes young people and members of the LGBTQ community.

In order to combat this abhorrent violence, young people are calling for the repeal of legislation that legalizes assault-style weapons like those utilized in shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and Sandy Hook Elementary School–both deadly shootings that targeted students under 18 years old.

Although the United States has witnessed an awakening of civic engagement among LGBTQ youth in relation to gun violence prevention, bias-motivated hate crimes remain on the rise in the two years since the Pulse Nightclub massacre. In particular, violence against transgender women of color remains at an all-time high. Hate crime statistics are not wholly reflective and inclusive of the scope of violence experienced by LGBTQ people, yet statistics from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) still indicate that LGBTQ individuals are the most vulnerable minority population to hate crime victimization in the United States.

The annual increase of bias-motivated violence, as documented by the FBI, indicates that accessibility to automatic assault weapons has become increasingly more dangerous to the LGBTQ community. Fenway Health reports that over 43,000 hate crimes reported between 2010-2014 involved gun violence, with present numbers on the rise.

Additionally, perpetual stigma and stereotyping directed towards LGBTQ youth accompanied with easy access to automatic assault weapons and a culture of violence creates a major public safety concern for LGBTQ youth in their daily lives.

Earlier this year, GLAAD Campus Ambassadors and I authored an open letter to Congress following the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, demanding preventative gun violence reform. Like GLAAD Campus Ambassadors, young people nationwide are honoring those whose lives were taken by gun violence through active civic engagement that emphasizes the intersectionality of gun violence victimization.

For these young people, honoring those killed at the Pulse Nightclub shooting means taking action. As young people who care about public safety, we are actively pursuing justice through the repeal of legislation that legalizes high-power assault weapons, demanding federal bans on bump stocks and instating comprehensive background checks for all gun owners.

Action means having nuanced discussions about gun violence through the lens of race, gender, sexual orientation, and a culture of toxic masculinity fueled by gun accessibility. These conversations demand that those in positions of privilege and power to provide platforms for those who have been victimized or threatened by gun violence and raise their voices to demand legislative and cultural change.

Action means demanding fair and accurate reporting that honors lives taken by gun violence without misgendering, misnaming, or mischaracterizing their existence.

To honor, act, and remember, we must repeal. We must loudly demand justice in the memory of those whose voices were taken at the Pulse Nightclub and other safe havens nationwide. Young people are actively changing the narrative around gun violence–and we will not back down.

RESOURCES

#ampyourvoice is a voter excitement campaign to engage, inform, and inspire young people to take action in their communities this midterm election. Follow the #ampyourvoice campaign on GLAAD social mediaFacebook, Instagram, Twitterand learn how you can take one action today at countable.us/profiles/glaad!

Leah Juliett is a GLAAD Campus Ambassador and rising senior at Western Connecticut State University studying political science. They are the Founder and Executive Director of the #MarchAgainstRevengePorn. Leah is a 2018 GLAAD Rising Stars Grant recipient and a currently serves as the Youth Engagement Coordinator at GLAAD.

the voice and vision of a new generation