What can we and our straight allies do in the wake of tragedy and horror? We can pull together, recognize each other, and do some or all of the following:
- Listen: Especially if you're a straight ally, you can listen. Understand what really happened at Pulse - that this was an attack on queer POC and the queer community, not an attack against America - and don't minimize. If your gay friend is afraid of attending Pride now, that's a valid emotion and a valid choice. Don't tell them to be brave and stand up.
- Signal Boost: retweet, reblog, share posts from queer friends who are expressing their anger, fear and grief. Help them to be more visible. There are tons of bad things about social media - this is one of the good things. Let these voices be heard.
- Counseling — The Center, serving the LGBTQ community, is open and offering grief counseling in English and Spanish. It is located at 945 N. Mills Ave. in Orlando. You also can call its hotline at 407-228-1446 or text your zip code to 898-211 to connect. In addition, the Heart of Florida United Way has a 24-7 crisis line at 2-1-1, and the Victim Service Center of Central Florida has a hotline at 407-497-6701. UCF students can receive free counseling on campus at Counseling and Psychological Services from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Contact the office at 407-823-2811. (From the Orlando Sentinel) For anyone not in the Orlando are who is struggling right now - please get help. This is not a failure on your part that you need help. This is human. Reach out to crisis and community centers in your area.
- Blood donations — OneBlood reported Sunday afternoon it has reached capacity for donations, so no further donations are immediately needed. However, it is asking anyone interested in helping to make an appointment to donate in the near future, as more blood will be needed. You can make an appointment online at oneblood.org/donate-now/ or by calling 1.888.9Donate.
- Donate funds for victims and families — Equality Florida has set up a GoFundMe page at https://www.gofundme.com/PulseVictimsFund. The fund has raised over 4 million as of this morning with a goal of 5 million - but there are going to be a lot of long term needs for families and surviving shooting victims.
- Consider supporting fundraising efforts that are donating all proceeds to the Victims' Fund. Artist Paul Richmond, for instance, has created artwork for a t-shirt on Traxler that emphasizes solidarity in the wake of tragedy and donates all proceeds to the fund. http://traxlertees.com/products/one-pulse-support-t-shirt. Several publishers have also put out calls to their authors for charity anthologies - all funds going to the Victims' Fund, and while some have called this into question as mercenary, I believe these story collections are a way for some queer writers to deal with their own grief and anger.
- Write your congress members about gun control. It's far past time. Far, far past. Nicole Silverberg has put together a guide on how to do this and even provides a sample letter. It's that simple. https://medium.com/@nicolesilverberg/it-s-on-us-too-an-easy-guide-to-contacting-your-elected-representatives-about-gun-control-2e2d8eb20e3f