by Erika Grumet
This weekend will mark the fifth anniversary of the shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, an unimaginable and heartbreaking tragedy targeting our LGBTQ+ family, and in particular BIPOC members of our LGBTQ+ family. We’ll bring you a longer piece about that over the weekend, but I have a request this week, as we lead up to that somber observance.
For the last sixteen years, Orlando has been my adopted hometown. Orlando is so much more than Disney, Universal, and theme parks. It will never be where my roots are, but my children’s roots are here (Florida is the land of the ficus tree, where a branch can put down roots). I am more like a branch, grafted onto a tree, not necessarily rooted, but still somewhat firmly here, and doing what I can to thrive. I have a sort of love/hate thing going with Orlando, but when the mass shooting in Las Vegas happened, I saw an interview with some municipal leader talking about how each time one of these mass shootings happens, the previous city reaches out to lend support…a unique kind of support that can only come from a BTDT situation-dealing with pragmatic things like media, dealing with the clean up, the trauma, the massive crush of funerals, the PTSD, the investigations, all of it. It’s a club no one wants to join but once you’re in, you hold a very special key, and I thought of my own adopted city, Orlando, reaching out to help Las Vegas.
Ever since the first anniversary of the Pulse massacre, June 12 has been known as “Orlando United Day,” and local agencies and organizations have used #actlovegive to encourage people to honor the day. The idea of #actlovegive shouldn’t be restricted to a day, a week, a month or any time-frame. It should be part of our everyday life as members of a human community, one that has a global impact and is much larger than the individual actions that we take. We forget that sometimes. We forget that the little, kind acts are so important. As a member of the Alphabet Mafia and as someone who has adopted Orlando as my home, in spite of how much I hate hashtag activism, I’m going to appeal to you to do a little of your own this week. The hashtag is three words. Act. Love. Give. It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture. Act…take the time to send an email or make a phone call to a legislator and remind that person to vote against the anti LGBTQ+ legislation that has been swamping us in recent months, or to do something to end cash bail and carceral culture, or to improve voting rights. Or thank your legislator for doing the right thing; we all know the senators representing this state won’t. Love…tell someone you haven’t appreciated yet or enough what they bring to your life. Not romantic love necessarily, but the love that allows us to create the communities and families we rely on for support that aren’t ones we are born into. Offer an extra hug if you’re the hugging type. Put that good love energy out into the world. And Give…we don’t all have large budgets for giving, and many of us are struggling. But give what you can. Buy an extra pair of socks or a can of something good and add it to the collection bin for your local agency helping out unhoused people. Add an extra dollar onto the tip when you go to Starbucks. Give a little money to The Trevor Project or your local LGBTQ youth service agency because queer youth have been particularly hard during the pandemic, often having lost their only safe spaces to be themselves and uncover their authenticity.
Take time to honor Pulse, to honor Orlando and to honor Pride Month for me, and remember to #ActLoveGive at least a little, please? It makes the world better for so many people.