LGBT COMMUNITY RESILIENT IN AFTERMATH OF MASSACRE
The Pulse nightclub shooting left the LGBT community in a state of panic. Just like any other big disaster, it would not be surprising if ten years from now, people still remember where they were when they heard the news. The shooting left many LGBT people thinking that it could have been them, leaving them to think that they were no longer safe; that even the small places they had managed to carve for themselves in their communities were no longer places they could go to be themselves and be safe.
Many other local LGBT spaces in the aftermath held fundraisers, vigils, and other events to show solidarity with Pulse and to make the community feel safer. The University at Albany is no different. In 2015, Her Campus’ College Rankings found that UAlbany was one of the top ten LBGT friendly campuses in the United States. And appropriately, UAlbany did not ignore the Pulse shooting.
The university news center released an article on the shooter and attack, calling it the “worst terror attack since 9/11.” This clearly shows the stance UAlbany took on the attack and it’s reassuring that the university also addresses the feelings of LGBT students. Bringing up that many LGBT-identifying individuals are now more worried than before about “homegrown threats and massacre” goes a long way to making the LGBT members of the university feel accepted and secure. UAlbany also sponsored a Red Cross blood donation drive, something that’s even more important to the LGBT community due to the ban on gay men donating blood.
With students returning to campus, it only makes sense that many would feel uneasy after the shooting. In the wake of the massacre, UAlbany’s concentration of students is bound to stir up a variety of opinions. Especially when more unfortunate events happen against the LGBT community. A week after the shooting, a gay flag hanging in the Damien Center outside the First Lutheran Church on Western Ave., was burned and shredded overnight. This, on top of the shooting can only make students and their parents more uneasy about returning.
Laura Evelyn, the president of the Pride Alliance at UAlbany, said that, “My parents, who worried about me enough being a Black/Latina Queer woman, barred me from going to Pride.” It’s important to note that the Pulse shooting happened on Latino Night and that most of the victims were Latino, speaking to a possible racist cause on top of the homophobia.
Surprisingly, the majority of people on campus feel that the LGBT community is stronger as a whole after this incident. Even though people were scared right after it happened, the majority of people banded together to keep fighting for activism.
UAlbany’s reaction to the Pulse nightclub massacre is a good way to help students deal with the largest mass shooting in the United States. It shows that they are not ignoring the hate crime and are willing to stand with students that were affected. Whether they are still scared or not, students can rely on the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center on campus, and the LGBT community as a whole to accept them and help them through whatever they might be feeling.