Reaction to the Pulse Nightclub Massacre in Orlando

This letter was originally published on June 18, 20016 but seems just as relevant today as it was then.

An Open Letter to My Friends and Family

June 18, 2016

Since that horrible morning on June 12th when we all woke up to a changed world I have been hearing from friends and family wanting to know if I am OK. Well the answer is “yes” and “no”.

“Yes” – I am fortunate that I have the social, economic and emotional resources that I will find a way to manage though my feelings of grief, anger and helplessness. I was not in physical proximity to Orlando so I was never in any immediate physical jeopardy. I am also grateful that no one I personally knew was killed or injured. So yes, in some ways I am OK.

“NO” – I am not OK and don’t know when and if I ever will be again. After struggling to be accepted by society, my religious faith, facing employment discrimination, fighting for the right to marry my husband legally and have it be recognized across the country I love and call home – after my community struggled to learn to live with HIV and AIDS and the devastation it caused while saying goodbye to so many loved ones – after all that, I thought we had turned a corner – and now this. So no, in a very fundamental way, I am not OK and am not sure I will ever be again.

So if you love me and care about me here is what I need you to do:

  • Use your voice – speak up against hate speech whenever and wherever it happens – no matter who it is directed to
  • Use your influence – at work, at your church, synagogue, mosque or in social clubs you belong to make sure that you use your influence to advocate for change
  • Use your mind – be open to new ideas and experience, reach out to someone who is different from you and learn what it is like to experience the world through their eyes
  • Use your resources – to support organizations that foster an open, safe and caring community.
  • Use your vote – to support candidates that stand up for inclusion, diversity, equal rights and shun hate speech.
  • Use your hands – to reach out and lift up those in need of assistance and comfort those in need of healing
  • Use your network – to share this message with anyone that will listen and perhaps some that won’t in the hope that you will help plant the seeds of change that may someday blossom into greater understanding and acceptance.Thank you for your thoughts and prayers but what I need even more than that is your actions.

With great affection,


You might also appreciate Legacy,  Out, Out Damn Spot


  1. Powerful post, Carl. I remember when you originally shared this in the summer and I love your honesty. You are right that these words have an added level of meaning and relevance now. Silence and ambivalence is a form of complicity. We need progressive action and positive, truthful voices … thank you.

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