After Orlando, we say love not hate

The following article is excerpted from a speech Rachel Evans gave at a vigil in Sydney to commemorate the first anniversary of the Orlando massacre in the US.

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I look into the crowd and see our diverse community. I see that we are creative, expressive people. I see that we are loved and that we love. I see our LGBTIQA community and I see our straight allies. I see that we are not white, that we are non-gender binary. I see our sadness, feel our loss.

But I also see our resilience, the strength we gain in coming together. It is this collectivity that steels us. It is this collectivity the neoliberal offensive has tried to diminish. 

It was hatred and bigotry that twisted the gunman on that night into a killing machine who took the lives of our comrades and friends in Pulse. 

We say never again. We say love not hate. Our love extends to Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists, Christians, atheists, Pakistanis, Syrians, Palestinians — anyone experiencing state repression or bigoted mob violence. 

We see the gays in Chechnya being rounded up, we feel horror and pain at gay men being rounded up in Indonesia and because a tide of reaction is sweeping the globe. Our community is in danger because in 76 countries there are anti-gay laws. 

We know solidarity is key because we are 10% of the population and to have a rainbow revolution we need 60% of the population on our side. And unless we extend solidarity to the refugees threatened with deportation in October, to the Fletcher workers on strike in Victoria, to the Muslim women abused on trains, we will not make ground.

That we fight each other and not them is the only thing standing between us and a rainbow-flecked world free of war, hunger, climate danger and hate crimes.  

The gunman’s actions were inevitable in a country that spends more than half its expenditure on war and refuses to heal the youths it sends into combat. But the other thing that is inevitable is the resurgence of resistance.

Last weekend in Britain we saw young people in their millions voting for socialist Jeremy Corbyn. We have seen millions of women and scientists marching against Trump and now thousands of queers are marching for their rights. 

We are the marriage equality fighting generation. Our forebears fought off HIV-AIDS. Our stanch rainbow seniors battled in 1978. We remember that a courageous, black transgender woman started the Stonewall riots. 

And we pay homage through taking up the baton and joining the fight for formal equality. Only a few weeks ago the first gay men to kiss on TV in Australia were denied their wish to be married.

“Bon” Bonsall-Boone died of cancer before he was able to marry his partner of 50 years. He was awarded the Order of Australia but still could not marry. We want marriage equality. And we want Safe Schools.

So let us honour all the 49 victims of the Orlando massacre with action. The struggle calls every one of our names. There will be more marriage equality actions, actions to defend Safe Schools, rallies to free refugees, to stop wars.

Join collectives, keep informed. And never forget, solidarity is strength. When we fight, we surely win. 

[Rachel Evans helped refound Community Action Against Homophobia in 2004 and has fought the marriage equality battle since. She was the Sydney University Postgraduate Association’s queer office bearer last year. She is a member of the Socialist Alliance.] 

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