Tuesday, June 14, 2016


In 2000, Ronald Gay entered a gay bar in Roanoke, Virginia and opened fire on the patrons, killing Danny Overstreet, 43 years old, and severely injuring six others. The shooter said he was angry over what his name now meant and was upset that three of his sons had changed their surname. He said God told him to find and kill lesbians and gay men, and described himself as a "Christian Soldier working for my Lord." Gay testified in court that "he wished he could have killed more fags," before several of the shooting victims as well as Danny Overstreet's family and friends.

In 2015, an ultra-Orthodox Jewish man recently released from prison after serving 10 years for stabbing participants in the annual Gay Pride Parade in Jerusalem in 2005 struck again at the same parade, stabbing six marchers. Here's a story from that time.

This year, someone who may have been a radical Muslim or may have been gay and unable to reconcile his homosexuality with his religion, killed 49 people at a gay club in Orlando.

People who use religion to justify murder are, in a word, terrifying. And it's profoundly sad that it was so easy to find examples of someone that is Christian, someone that is Jewish and someone that is Muslim killing gay people in the name of their God. It's even easier to find lots of examples of religious people saying that their religion says gay people are worthy of derision and death.

I am an atheist, but I'm also a humanist. I want to live a life that affirms the human ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity. I believe that ethics and compassion make our lives understandable and meaningful. That means I believe, among many things, that LGBTIQ people should have the same rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and the same access to safety, as any other human being, anywhere on Earth. It means that I am appalled at the idea of LGBTIQ people being harmed because of their sexual orientation, and will never tolerate such actions.

I also have a really pronounced sense of empathy, and I tend to cry when I see inhumanity. So, regarding Orlando, I've cried a lot. But I've also been heartened at the outpouring of love and support from so many different people.

But I am oh-so-unsettled by religious justifications for this hate of LGBTIQ people. It's disgusting. And seeing so many Christians condemn Islam because of this shooting - but not Christianity for its long history of violence, including violence aimed at health clinics and the workers at such - disgusts me just as much.

So, how will I respond to all this, other than writing this blog? By:
  • Posting to my social meeting accounts and making sure all of my friends and colleagues know the facts of this shooting, countering hearsay and rumors, knowing where they can help with cash donations to those affected by the Orlando shooting, and knowing about local events to condemn this act of violence and the religious justifications for it.
  • Connecting all of my local gay friends to a newly-formed online community for LGBTIQ in our small town and surrounding small towns.
  • Responding to and countering connections on social media that espouse hate or religious justifications for marginalizing LGBTIQ people.
  • Read the Second Edition of Psychological First Aid Field Operations Guide and look for some way to get my mental health first aid certification renewed, as well as getting my CPR and First Aid certification renewed.
  • I will write my US Senators, my US Congressional representative and my state representatives and demand gun control - it's time to make getting and owning a gun the same as getting and owning a car, at the very least, and getting rid of any access to guns that can kill so many in 60 seconds.
If you have been affected by the Orlando shooting - or any traumatic event, no matter how far away - and it's affected your sleep, your ability to function, your ability to get up in the morning, your feeling of safety, anything, please call 1-800-985-5990 - it's the 24/7 @SAMHSAgov hotline, a federal program for anyone in the U.S./territories in distress from disasters. They also have a service via SMS (text TalkWithUs to 66746).

Peace be with you.

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