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#WeAreOrlando: Finding hope in the wake of tragedy

This week’s discussion on finding hope after the Orlando shooting is collaboratively written by Ali Mailen Perrotto, Contract Liaison at PCAR, and Kayla Houser, Outreach Coordinator at PCAR.

Waking yesterday to news of the mass shooting in Orlando targeting the LGBT community was heartbreaking. It is a tragic reminder of the violence and hate that many in the LGBT community experience every day. We recognize the painful and historical trauma that homophobia creates and it’s intersections with other forms and tools of oppression, including sexual violence.

When events like this rock the country, it’s so easy to feel small and helpless. Where do we even begin to unpack the hurt and pain that mass violence like this incites in our hearts? But just as one person’s hateful, violent actions completely changed the lives of the celebrants in that nightclub, the every-day actions and choices we make can change this world.

PCAR, along with our 50 sexual assault centers, understand that hate, violence, and oppression in all its forms have no place in the future we are trying to build. Even in the early hours after this tragedy, we saw glimmers of solidarity and resiliency in Pennsylvania and nationwide. That’s the future we strive for.

Communities all across the country will hold vigils to honor the victims in Orlando. Ceremonies like these are a wonderful way to begin to put emotion into action. If you know of other events or plan to hold your own, consider providing information on the event to help promote a broader community response. There are other ways to help, such as donating blood or giving to hospitals. In the coming months, get involved with your local LGBT center by attending events or promoting community programs.

It’s so important at times like this to practice self-care and acknowledge your own feelings. The American Psychological Association has tools for working through your emotions and building resiliency after a mass shooting. While it is difficult to live through events like this one, we know that it is worthwhile to process the pain. We have a responsibility to learn what we can to ensure that this does not happen again.

As you move through your daily life, know that you can make a difference in this world. Do whatever you can to break down the hate and oppression that allow this to happen. Build up an atmosphere of respect, tolerance, and humanity. Help us in spreading a message of help, hope, and healing for all.