At the Perth Vigil for Orlando on June 15, our community stood in unity and mourned the lives lost. By candlelight we stood together in the Perth Cultural Centre and listened to heart-warming speeches from our queer siblings, as well as from the Socialist Alliance, the Greens and the Labor Party, before observing two minutes of silence to remember the 49 lives lost.
Towards the end of the event more than 2000 people stood holding hands, singing Seasons of Love with an LGBTI choir, an uplifting few minutes filling the crowd with hope.
As a member of the LGBTI community, this tragic event has cast a veil of negative emotions over me and many of my queer friends. But to see so many supporters, allies and, most importantly, fellow community members standing up and opening their arms in support has lifted that veil and replaced it with an armour stronger than anything you could possibly imagine.
Had I known how loving our community was, regardless of the awful hate-filled crimes across the world, I am sure I, along with many others, would have come out so much sooner.
The world we live in may have insulted us, bullied us, excluded us, physically hurt us, even murdered us in cold blood, but we will always come out stronger and more unified than ever before.
We are the ones who know how isolating and scary it is to be a minority, and I promise you that one day, we will change the world and make it a more loving place.
We are the ones who start out wishing to see a change in the world, but we are also the ones who will grow up and be that change.
Together we will mourn the lives lost on the brink of inspiring the world around them; we will send our love and thoughts to their family and friends; we will defend our Muslim friends from the backlash and hate they may receive; we will push for stricter gun laws to protect our future queer children.
But most importantly, we will all be a support network for each other and inspire others to fight with us. If you are reading this, I encourage you to go give your queer and Muslim friends a hug from me and make sure they know they are valued and loved.
Photos by Marziya Mohammedali