I live in Orlando. I have lived in Orlando for most of my life. My office is a few streets over from the Pulse nightclub. When the news was unfolding all day, all morning, it was a shock. It was a shock that this could happen, in my town, a few streets away from my work.
And I’m gay. And I’m a person of color. And most of the victims were gay, and people of color. And that makes it scary. I am scared for my community. I am scared to go to vigils and walks and crowded places. I am scared to publicly mourn because, “what if?” What if this happens again?
In the wake of all this fear, I am not only scared for me, and other gay members of the community, and other gay people of color, but I am scared for the backlash. For people taking the ethnicity and religion of the killer and using it against me.
I’m Indian. And sometimes Indian, and Sikh, and Muslim people are attacked out of bigotry and fear. I am afraid from both sides.
And yet, I am hopeful.
Because Equality Florida broke the GoFundMe record for most money raised at 4 million dollars for the families of the victims. Because Disney and Universal donated a million dollars each to that effort. Because JetBlue offered free flights to the victims’ families. Because thousands donated blood and local banks across Florida, to the point where some banks have sent people away because they were at capacity. Because thousands showed up for the vigil that took place on Tuesday.
Because Senate Democrats filibustered to have gun control bills heard. Because incremental policy change is being discussed. Because a Fox news anchor took a stand against machine guns.
Through my fear is hope. Hope for Orlando, hope for change, and hope for a tomorrow without this kind of tragedy happening to any community again.