Equality Florida's Stratton Pollitzer Reflects On 3-Years Since Pulse
Stratton Pollitzer, Equality Florida's Deputy Director, reflects on the 3-year remembrance of Pulse:
Today is the 3-year mark since of the massacre at Pulse. I will always remember the exact moment I heard this awful news, I bet you can too, but it took days for the horror to fully sink in. We spent Sunday morning June 12, 2016, scrambling to locate our staff who lived in Orlando and regularly danced at Pulse. They were all ok, at least physically, but had lost many good friends and suffered deep emotional wounds. We also spent that morning launching Equality Florida's first GoFundMe campaign and set an audacious goal of raising $100,000 for the victims and their families - we exceeded that goal in 90 minutes. It went on to become the largest GoFundMe campaign in history raising $9.5 million from 120,000 donors in 120 countries, and we made certain every penny went to victims and families, even the interest earned on the account.
I remember those early days after Pulse, when Governor Scott initially refused to even say LGBT when he talked about the attack, and I remember how afraid I was that the homophobia that fueled this hateful massacre would not be exposed. Worse, I worried the world wouldn't care as much because most of the victims were LGBTQ people of color (those of us who lived through America's indifference to the AIDS crisis in the 80's will always carry this fear). Which is why the global outpouring of support, the images of love and tears at rallies from Hong Kong to New Zealand, filled me with hope even at a time of such darkness.
The deep work of uprooting bigotry will not be easy. When we launched #HonorThemWithAction, we knew it would be a long haul requiring allies the world over to truly shift our culture. As just one example of the progress possible, we launched our Safe and Healthy Schools project six weeks after PULSE - because we know that all too often the bias and bigotry that festers in these shooters began in their school years. In just three years this ambitious new project has provided LGBT anti-bias training to nearly 8,000 principals and district leaders in 63 of Florida's 67 school districts, from elementary to high school, from the rural panhandle to South Florida. We're just getting started, but we are already truly having an impact on this 3 million student system.
Another Pulse, or Parkland, or Vegas, or Sandy Hook is not inevitable. It is NOT inevitable. Not if we believe we can win and work with the grit and determination of the to demand this be the turning point. #honorthemwithaction