We wish to express our shock, horror and deep sadness at the violence that was perpetrated in Orlando this weekend. It is clear to us here that this was a targeted attack on the LGBT community and we stand with our LGBT brothers and sisters in Orlando and around the world.
Breakout Youth is a charity supporting LGBT young people in Hampshire. While it is true that great strides have been made towards legal equality in the UK in the last fifty years, we know that LGBT young people still face challenges every single day. 69% of LGBT homeless people state parental rejection as a factor in them becoming homeless. Name calling and physical bullying are real, and destroy confidence, self worth, hope and aspiration. Young people in our groups tell us frequently that these things happen to them. A culture that allows discrimination of any sort to exist is one where hatred can flourish. It must be challenged – we challenge it.
June is LGBT Pride month, a time when LGBT people remember the struggles of those before them, and celebrate who they are. We believe that love has no gender, and that everyone should be free to be who they are, to love who they love. Perhaps the most haunting detail of this tragedy has been the description of how mobile phones rang and rang, unanswered in the pockets and bags of the 50 plus people shot. Every one of those missed calls was an expression of love, someone frantic with worry as their loved one was not answering.
If you are an LGBT young person reading this, we want you to know that you are not alone. We run safe, friendly youth groups full of acceptance for you just as you are. Contact us through our website www.breakoutyouth.org.uk for details of the nearest group to you.
We call on our community to stand with us and show love this month – this Pride month. Challenge hate where you see it. Celebrate the LGBT people in your lives, your community. Be Proud.