I have no doubt that my life, the work I do and the work of Pride Foundation will be forever changed by last month’s shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida that resulted in the devastating loss of 49 lives. The weeks following this tragedy have been heartbreaking and challenging. While many have been quick to respond to this attack as yet another mass shooting, I can’t help but focus on the ways it is distinct from other mass shootings, and the implications that particularly affect LGBTQ people of color.
This act of violence was not random; it targeted LGBTQ Latinx people and, at its core, was a hate crime. It has instilled fear across LGBTQ communities, especially among people of color, affirming that we are unable to live openly and genuinely in the places that we had considered safe. The impacts of this kind of violence are devastating and remind us that because of who we are, we may never feel — or be — safe.
In this moment, I have been extremely grateful to have the support of my colleagues at Pride Foundation, as well as my broader LGBTQ community in Oregon. At Pride Foundation, we held space for one another to grieve and process what had happened. We reminded one another that we are loved, valued, and worth defending. I had the privilege and honor of attending and speaking at a vigil in Portland attended by more than 1,000 people.
Seeing so many from my community gather together, holding candles and one another, reminded me that in the face of tragedy, we must not respond with fear and hatred, but love and compassion.
Through all these challenges and heartbreak, I’ve found myself reflecting on the daily acts of inspiration that fuel my work. I am inspired by the strength and compassion of my colleagues at Pride Foundation, who continue to remind me what it looks like to show up and be seen. I am inspired by the courageous and tenacious LGBTQ community in Oregon. I am inspired by my peers in Philanthropy Northwest's Momentum Fellowship, for their support and leadership, and fierce and unwavering commitment to equity. I am inspired by the resilience of our LGBTQ community — that we will respond with love and continue to build bridges across difference.
It's easy to feel defeated during times of tragedy — but I know that we are destined for far greater. Together, we will continue to build a safer, kinder and more compassionate world for all.
"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." —Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Kim Sogge is a Momentum Fellow hosted by Pride Foundation. Read more about the Momentum Fellowship on our website, including monthly blog posts from our first cohort.