Posted by Kimberley Meijers on June 16, 2016 at 4:13 pm
Receiving news of the mass shooting that took place at a gay bar in Orlando, Florida, U.S.A. was unnerving and heartbreaking. The news came just after MSMGF and its partners spent the prior week educating governments, including the U.S., at the United Nations’ High-Level Meeting about why relegating gay men, sex workers, transgender people, and people who use drugs to one problematic paragraph in this year’s Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS is shortsighted, dangerous, and wrong. Governments worldwide expect our communities to stay quiet and satisfied with tokenism in support of some greater good, revealing the underlying belief that “queers, hookers, trannies, and junkies” are expendable. This idea gives governments and its citizens continued license to behave badly and violently.
Moralism, homophobia, transphobia, misogyny, xenophobia, class inequity, and self-interest were on full display last week at the UN, as they are in our daily lives everywhere. They very literally result in death. When combined with our cultures’ gun-obsessed propensity for violence and the utter inability to see these issues as connected, our societies produce the perfect conditions for what took place in Orlando this weekend – 50 lives lost and many more injured. Not surprising that the target was a gay bar.
Sadly, the mass shooting in Orlando is not an isolated incident. 39-year-old gay activist and rising political figure, Rene Martinez, was kidnapped earlier this month as he was arriving home from work, when unknown men forced him into a vehicle. His body was found two days later in a nearby neighborhood, according to Associated Press. Mr. Martinez appears to have been strangled. The activist had served as President of San Pedro Sula-based rights group Comunidad Gay Sampredrana, and worked for an anti-violence program developed alongside the US Agency for International Development (USAID).
Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, sex workers, and people who use drugs are subject to brutal (in most cases State-sanctioned) violence daily around the world. Our spaces and our people are easy targets because in the mainstream imaginary, we are expendable.
MSMGF emphatically rejects this notion and calls on our allies to stand against violence. We take comfort and inspiration from the many, many acts of courage, strength, intelligence, kindness, fellowship, and generosity that pierce through ignorance and that unmistakably shake power and the status quo to their core. Activists made their presence strongly felt at the UN last week, just as we do every day, everywhere. We will need to draw continuously from our collective strength and resiliency in the weeks and years to come.
MSMGF extends its deepest thoughts and condolences to the loved ones of those we lost in Orlando, to Rene’s family and friends, and to the victims of violence worldwide.