We are Orlando


What happened at the gay nightclub Pulse, in Orlando, was not just an attack on the community or the city but an attack on humanity. We asked the President of the TRUSU Pride Club, Lino Caputo to write a brief statement to express his views and to represent the rest of the LGBTQ community here at Thompson Rivers University and the City of Kamloops in British Columbia, Canada.

In preparation for the TRUSU Pride Club’s Wake for Orlando, I was interviewed a few times and each time I was asked “Why do you think it’s important to gather to honour the victims of the massacre at the Pulse Nightclub?” To myself, and I think many of the people in our pride community here in Kamloops, it wasn’t just feelings of loss, of empathy, and of grief that inspired us to gather on Thursday; it was much more complicated than that.
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When the gunman walked into the Pulse Nightclub on June 12th at 2am and conducted the largest mass shooting in modern American history, he claimed the lives of 49 people, most of whom were queer and latinx, and brought out a maelstrom of political conflict across the continent and beyond. Over the next few days, the media began to cover every controversial issue you can think of. Orlando became the poster­child example for arguments against homophobia, gun control, racism, immigration, and religious extremism — among many other issues.

We are being fed all this information, and yet many of us are still struggling to grasp who “the bad guy” is here. We are searching for something or someone to blame, for something to fix, to make sure that a tragedy like this never happens again, but we are doomed to either settle for half-­baked answers or find no answers at all. The more we analyze the situation, the more layers we uncover.

This was a hate crime with unprecedented depth that reminds us all that there are no simple answers and no easy explanations. The Pulse Nightclub Massacre and all of the media surrounding it highlights the need for intersectionality in social justice, and the need for diverse voices to be loved, welcomed, and respected. When well over 200 people gathered together on Thursday June 16th, our pride community chose not only to offer ourselves a chance to grieve — we chose to offer ourselves a chance to be heard.

But this is only a stepping stone. As we move forward, every person must stand in solidarity, advocate for revolutionary change, and use our privilege to empower the voices of others. We must continue to build our community.

As president of the TRUSU Pride Club and on behalf of Kamloops Pride, the Unitarian Universalist Association, and all other parties involved with the events on Thursday, I want to thank every one of you who attended or showed support for these events. Furthermore, I want to acknowledge the loss to the families of the victims, to the latinx pride community, and to the pride community at large.

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Finally, I want to encourage you all to love those dear to you, allow yourself to feel and be moved by these events, and participate as much as you can in the Kamloops community. We are a voice for significant social change and with your help, we will be heard.

Lino Caputo
TRUSU Pride Club President

 

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and this is why I love being a student and employee here at Thompson Rivers University. TRU is inclusive in every way and it is very accepting. Did you see the pride flag at half mast outside Campus Activity Centre? Here is a statement made by the President of Thompson Rivers University, Dr. Alan Shaver.

The Orlando Massacre on Sunday goes far beyond terrorism. It is an unmistakable hate crime because it targets innocent people simply because of their perceived sexual and gender identities. Let it be known that we condemn this senseless act. We stand beside our LGBTQ community at TRU, and in our city, because we believe in the creative power of diversity to make a more loving and peaceful world. We extend our deepest condolences to the families, loved ones and friends of those killed and injured in Orlando, and to those in our own community who are affected by this tragic event. TRU’s flags will be flown at half-mast at our Kamloops and Williams Lake campuses.

*Counselling services are available to students in Kamloops (Room OM 1631) or Williams Lake, and to employees through our Employee Assistance Plan. Currently, we are unaware of any TRU students in Orlando and region. If you have friends or relatives known to be in these areas, you may wish to contact Global Affairs Canada’s 24/7 Emergency Watch and Response Centre by calling 613-996-8885 or 1-800-387-3124, or by sending an email to sos@international.gc.ca

Sincerely,

Alan Shaver
President and Vice-Chancellor

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