EDITOR’S NOTE: This opinion piece originally appeared in the Advocate magazine and is being published with the consent of the Log Cabin Republicans.
June 12th, 2017, will be the one year anniversary of the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida. Forty-nine members of the LGBT community and straight allies lost their lives that night, and 68 others were wounded when a radical Islamic terrorist carried out a vicious attack on those simply wanting to have a fun night out with friends. It was the deadliest shooting in American history.
We all remember where we were when we first heard of this horrific act of barbarism. In Los Angeles, people in our community woke up on Sunday morning, the second day of our usually joyous LGBT Pride Festival, to the news of what had happened to our brothers and sisters the night before- in a place that most LGBT people consider sacred and safe. Fear, sadness and uncertainty carried the day in West Hollywood, where city officials, law enforcement and festival organizers rightly decided that we must stand up to the evil and hatred which spurred the attack on our community 2500 miles away and carry on with the parade and festival which for decades has stood for progress and celebration. Although more somber than usual, the festivities continued and we felt united as a community on that day.
Many of us expected that this year’s LA Pride Festival would focus on unity and in some way memorialize the fact that our celebration falls on the one-year anniversary of the Orlando terrorist attack which took 49 of our dearest loved ones. However, rather than honoring those who lost their lives exactly one year earlier, LA Pride organizers have canceled the annual Pride Parade and instead are endorsing a partisan and political anti-President Trump protest march which will bring 200,000 to 500,000 protesters to the gates of the now-shrunken Pride Festival grounds in West Hollywood.
This short-sighted and politically fueled tirade does little to celebrate and inform, nor does it demonstrate any kind of pride or diversity.
Partisan rabble rousers would like you to #resist, but this is just code for #divide. A divided community and a divided nation leaves us vulnerable to those who would do us harm. As Barbara Poma, the owner of Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, has said repeatedly, “We are weak when we are divided.” The political activism which is being planned during our Pride weekend- which should both celebrate and pay tribute to those who gave their lives -is appalling and a manufactured ploy to increase already heated partisan tensions. It does nothing to educate our detractors or win hearts and minds. It does nothing to communicate with lawmakers. It does nothing to keep us safe from terrorists who hate us. And it does nothing to memorialize the lives lost in Orlando.
We at Log Cabin Republicans have not forgotten our brothers and sisters who were the victims of radical Islamic terrorism inside what was usually their place of refuge- Pulse Nightclub -in Orlando a year ago. Since the organizers of LA Pride will not stand up to recognize the victims who gave their lives at the hands of a terrorist on that hallowed day, then we will.
Log Cabin Republicans has partnered with onePULSE Foundation, founded by the owners of the Pulse Nightclub, to support the launch of their fundraising initiative to a.) construct a permanent national memorial to those who died in last year’s attack, b.) fund 49 scholarships tailored around the interests of each of those we lost, and c.) provide grants to the survivors and to the families of those who died. This Pride season, we invite all members of the community to remember those who were engaged in celebration a year ago- just as we were celebrating here in LA -and who paid the ultimate price for being visible and proud members of the LGBT community and allies. To help onePULSE create a “sanctuary of hope,” please visit here www.gofundme.com/LCRforonePULSE. Unity and remembrance is the best way to ensure that LA Pride 2017 appropriately recognizes the sacrifices so many have made.
Matthew Craffey is the president of the Los Angeles Chapter of Log Cabin Republicans and current chairman of California Log Cabin Republicans. Charles T. Moran is the past chairman of California Log Cabin Republicans.