June 12, 2017, will be the one-year anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando. Forty-nine LGBT people and straight allies lost their lives that night, and dozens of others were wounded when a terrorist carried out a vicious attack on those simply wanting to have a fun night out with friends. It was the deadliest shooting in American history.
We all remember where we were when we first heard of this horrific act of barbarism. In Los Angeles, people in our community woke up on Sunday morning, the second day of our usually joyous LGBT Pride Festival, to the news of what had happened to our brothers and sisters the night before, in a place most LGBT people consider sacred and safe. Fear, sadness, and uncertainty carried the day in West Hollywood, where city officials, law enforcement, and festival organizers rightly decided that we must stand up to the evil and hatred that spurred the attack on our community 2,500 miles away and carry on with the parade and festival. Although more somber than usual, the festivities continued and we felt united as a community on that day.
Many of us expected that this year’s L.A. Pride Festival would focus on unity and in some way memorialize the fact that our celebration falls on the one-year anniversary of the Orlando terrorist attack. However, rather than honoring those who lost their lives exactly one year earlier, L.A. Pride organizers have canceled the annual Pride parade and instead are endorsing a partisan and political anti-President Trump protest march.
The march will begin at the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue in Los Angeles and will conclude at the intersection of Santa Monica and Robertson boulevards in West Hollywood. Organizers expect it will bring between 200,000 to 500,000 protesters to the gates of the now-shrunken Pride Festival grounds. Like other protests around the country, the march is in response to proposed or expected proposals by President Trump that don’t align with the LGBT left’s positions when it comes to immigration, abortion, and other issues.
This short-sighted and politically fueled tirade does little to celebrate and inform, nor does it demonstrate any kind of pride or diversity. Most local businesses that have financially supported L.A. Pride festivities every year are already stating they will not or cannot participate this year due to the political bent of the march.
Partisan rabble-rousers would like you to #resist, but this is just code for #divide. As Barbara Poma, the owner of Pulse, has said repeatedly, “We are weak when we are divided.” The political activism that is being planned during our Pride weekend — which should both celebrate and pay tribute to those who gave their lives — is appalling and a manufactured ploy to increase already-heated partisan tensions. It does nothing to educate our detractors or win hearts and minds. It does nothing to communicate with lawmakers. It does nothing to keep us safe from terrorists who hate us. And it does nothing to memorialize the lives lost in Orlando.
Those of us in the LGBT community should never forget our brothers and sisters who were the victims of terrorism inside what was usually their place of refuge. The organizers of L.A. Pride clearly will not stand up to recognize the victims who gave their lives at the hands of a terrorist on that hallowed day, but for those who find that as unacceptable we do, we suggest finding ways to pay tribute to the families of those who died and to help those who survived but are still recovering from injuries.
One such route is the onePULSE Foundation, founded by the owners of the Pulse nightclub. They are raising funds to support the launch of their initiative to (a) construct a permanent national memorial to those who died in last year’s attack, (b) fund 49 scholarships tailored around the interests of each of those we lost, and (c) provide grants to the survivors and to the families of those who died. Whether it’s supporting foundations such as onePULSE or writing a caring letter to the family of one of the victims, all members of the community should remember those who were engaged in celebration a year ago and who paid the ultimate price for being visible and proud LGBT people. Unity and remembrance will always be a better way to ensure that L.A. Pride appropriately recognizes the sacrifices so many have made, rather than a divisive, partisan march. If you would like to help onePULSE create a “sanctuary of hope,” please visit www.gofundme.com/LCRforonePULSE.
The Advocate reached out to the organizers of L.A. Pride for a rebuttal and is currently awaiting their response.
MATTHEW CRAFFEY is the president of the Los Angeles Chapter of Log Cabin Republicans and current chairman of California Log Cabin Republicans. CHARLES T. MORAN is the past chairman of California Log Cabin Republicans.