The 72nd Tony Awards were handed out last night, coinciding with the Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles Pride Parades. There was singing. There was dancing.
There were also those who watched the show last night still haunted by the Tony Awards on June 12, 2016 -- the night after the mass shooting in Orlando at Pulse, a gay nightclub.
In receiving one of 11 Tony awards that Hamilton would win in 2016, Lin-Manuel Miranda delivered his acceptance speech in the form of a sonnet, recognizing the act of terror that occurred just hours earlier:
We chase the melodies that seem to find us
Until they're finished songs and start to play
When senseless acts of tragedy remind us
That nothing here is promised, not one day
This show is proof that history remembers
We live through times when hate and fear seem stronger
We rise and fall and light from dying embers
Remembrances that hope and love lasts long
And love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love
Cannot be killed or swept aside ...
Now fill the world with music, love, and pride
I was moved to tears by Miranda's passionate and forceful repetition of "love is love is love." It was simply beautiful, and it wasn't until the next night that I realized how tragically painful it was to my LGBTQ friends.
They were terrified. They were confused. Some had just come to terms with their sexuality and had finally felt safe. Then, Orlando, and a Saturday night out dancing no longer felt safe at all.
In President Obama's address to the nation after the shooting, he recognized that this senseless act of violence could have been perpetrated against any American community but drew particular attention to the community affected by it the most, saying, "This is an especially heartbreaking day for all of our friends, our fellow Americans, who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender."
I cannot help but feel that our nation's growing disrespect and disregard for others, gleefully led by our president, fuels the fire of hate toward people who don't necessarily look or act consistent with what has historically been considered the "norm."
I am scared for those who are victimized just for being themselves. But I admit that being scared only allows a space for those who trumpet hate. Is silence anything but a form of acceptance?
June is LGBTQ Pride Month. Thirty days of celebrations, parades, and memorials marking the numerous contributions of the LGBTQ community. This month my colleagues and I are proud to be working on the West Hollywood AIDS Monument project, which will capture the soul and spirit of those who have been lost to this vicious disease. Inspired by the individual stories of those affected by HIV/AIDS, the storytelling about this monument will coincide with the launch of an online platform that will cultivate and preserve an even larger number of stories for generations to come.
Pride started as one day to honor the 1969 Stonewall riots in Manhattan, a tipping point for the gay liberation movement in the United States. It has now grown to a month dedicated to celebrating the freedom of every American to love who they love. A freedom that we should celebrate and promote every day.
I believe that most of us want to live in a world as defined by Lin-Manuel Miranda, where "love cannot be killed or swept aside." I believe that we have made progress, but that our work is far from over.
LORRIE MCHUGH is the founder of LMW Strategies, LLC, a Washington, D.C.-based strategic communications firm. Previously, Lorrie served as communications director for Sen. Hillary Clinton and White House deputy press secretary for media affairs and operations for President Bill Clinton. She sits on the board of Whitman-Walker Health, an organization dedicated to providing a safe and welcoming place where anyone can receive high-quality, stigma-free health care.