SEX and gender diverse people in San Francisco’s Castro District have spoken out about the Orlando shooting last weekend, calling for gun law reform and highlighting the importance of the LGBTI community sticking together.
In a tragic act that shook LGBTI people around the world, Omar Mateen recently shot and murdered 49 people at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida.
San Francisco’s historic gay village in particular, the Castro District, has been a major site for this grievance.
Local resident Sara believes the community has come together stronger than ever in the face of such a heartbreaking incident.
“Nobody can stop our freedom because love is love, and when they try to go after an oppressed group it won’t work,” she told the Star Observer.
“This is a tragedy and every single person that passed is close to my heart, along with every person that goes through the struggle of discrimination.
“We stand united.”
Following the incident, Mateen’s father said his son had been enraged earlier in the year when he saw a same-sex couple kissing in front of his family.
This prompted people to flood social media with images of two men kissing as a stand against homophobia.
Fellow San Francisco resident, Mark, said the shooting has posed a fight for the LGBTI community, one not dissimilar to the AIDS crisis in the 1980s.
“It’s another chapter in our fight, we’ve lived through AIDS in the ‘80s and now people have died because of the hatred that still exists,” he said.
Mark added that in times like this the community tends to come together in solidarity.
“Thank god we usually do, but unfortunately it’s when things like this happen,” he said.
“The same thing happened with AIDS, which was horrific, but it enlightened people to our lives and how we love, which is important for everyone.”
Originally from France, San Francisco resident Charlotte mirrored Sara and Mark’s sentiments, adding that gun laws in the United States need to be changed right away.
“In Australia I imagine you have one attack and the whole country is like enough, it needs to stop, but here it isn’t taken into account,” she said.
“The fact that a guy that was just investigated by the FBI can just get hold of a gun legally, he shouldn’t even be allowed to have a gun.
“We need to unite and be stronger because love will conquer… it’s a tragedy that the community would be targeted like this.”
The Orlando shooting has also prompted LGBTI leaders here in Australia to call on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to cancel his proposed marriage equality plebiscite if elected next month.