JACKSON, MISS– Mississippians in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community banded together in mourning and support for those impacted by the terrorist attack on the nightclub Pulse in Orlando.
Vigils have been held across the state and those in Mississippi’s LGBTQ family have taken the attacks to heart.
“We are grieving the 49 victims, and the more than 50 who were injured,” said Mississippi Human Rights Campaign Director Rob Hill. “Our hearts are breaking for their families, their loved ones, and the entire community.”
Hill said that while the attack was in Orlando, it has sparked sadness and concern here in the Magnolia state.
“We all are affected by this,” said Hill. “LGBT people feel this. We all feel more vulnerable as a result of this attack.”
Hill added that while hundreds lined the blocks in Orlando to give blood to the injured, it is a stark reminder of something those in the LGBT community are not allowed to contribute.
“There’s a federal policy that bans gay and bisexual men from donating blood,” said Hill. He added that recent science showed the ban to be unnecessary and stigmatizing.
“If there was ever a moment that shows the blood ban should be lifted, it’s right now,” said Hill. “Because we have dozens of LGBT people lying wounded in Orlando hospitals in need of urgent care.”
The shooter killed 49 people and injured 53 more when he walked into Pulse Nightclub in Orlando and started shooting with an AR-15 and a handgun. Political and accepted discrimination of the LGBT community further perpetuated Omar Mateen’s hate for homosexuals, according to Hill.
“The person who committed this act was conditioned to believe that LGBT people deserved to be massacred,” said Hill. “He didn’t come from a foreign land. The shooter was born and raised right here in the United States and heard dangerous messages from politicians and radical anti-LGBT extremists right here.”
Hill said there is something every Mississippian can do to help prevent attacks and discrimination against those in the LGBT community.
“We need to be careful about the language that we use, and pay attention to it and call it out,” said Hill. “Every time we see legislation that puts a target on LGBT people’s back, it sends the wrong message and perpetuates the hate and misunderstanding that contributed to this.”