Here are 5 Things You Can Do Right Now to Help Orlando Victims
In the face of unspeakable tragedy, it’s easy for a debilitating sense of dread and helplessness to take over. This feeling has become as routine as the mass shootings we’re expected to respond to, but it’s important to shake out of it. On Saturday, a shooter entered the LGBTQ nightclub Pulse, killed 49 people, and injured dozens more. It was the largest mass shooting in over a century, and while some have resorted to fear mongering and misinformation, most people around the world have reacted with love and kindness. We talked to people at the Stonewall Inn vigil, and all of us are beginning to process, in our own way, the magnitude of what happened. But the time has come to act.
There is no one solution to solving the problems that caused this massacre, but there are important steps we can take right now to help make sure this never happens again. From signing a petition, to donating to the victims, or even just dancing your heart out at a LGBTQ club, it’s time to take action with these simple steps.
Help Fight for a Ban on the Sale of Assault Weapons
Despite a history of aggression and numerous investigations by the FBI, the shooter was able to legally buy a handgun and an AR-15 rifle, which is so easy to buy that Philadelphia Inquirer journalist Helen Ubiñas was able to buy one legally in seven minutes.
It only takes a few minutes to sign this MoveOn petition to call for an end to the sale of assault weapons. We also encourage you to see if your local Congress members took money from the NRA here, and then contact them here to demand they fight for gun control legislation in Washington.
Help Raise Money for the Victim’s Families
The nonprofit LGBT civil rights organization Equality Florida set up a GoFundMe account for the victims and their families, which you can donate to here. Incredibly, they already outraised their original goal of $500,000, bringing in almost 4 million in funds.
You can also donate to the CrowdRise campaign set up by global nonprofit organization Planting Peace. They will use the money that’s donated to cover the funeral and medical costs for the victims and their families.
Sign the Petition to Allow Gay Men to Donate Blood
One of the most profound aftereffects of the tragedy has been the renewed focus on the offensive policy that gay men are unable to donate blood unless they’ve been celibate for a year. It’s all because of a decades-old Food and Drug Administration policy that began in with the AIDS crisis, but has quickly become archaic. Take a few minutes to sign the White House petition to ban blood donor discrimination here.
Donate Blood to OneBlood in Orlando
In the morning after the deadly Orlando attack, hundreds of people lined up to give blood to blood banks to help the victims. Local blood banks quickly filled up as people gave blood or brought snacks and drinks to the donation centers. Now, the OneBlood blood bank is urgently asking for O Neg, O Pos, and AB donors.
If you are in Orlando or in the state of Florida, head to their website here to find out more information, or find the location of their Big Red Bus mobile donation centers.
Urgent need for O Neg, O Pos and AB Plasma donors following a mass shooting in Orlando call 1.888.936.6283 or click. https://t.co/4bf6aA1lMS
— OneBlood (@my1blood) June 12, 2016
Stand Together and Support the Community
One of the most important things to do in the wake of this tragedy is to support the LGBTQ community and allies who’ve been affected. If you head to the We Are Orlando website here, you can find vigils happening all over the country you can attend to stand in solidarity with the victims.
If you are struggling or know someone who is struggling, please remember that you don’t have to go through this alone. There are a number of hotlines you can talk to over the phone or online. We are all struggling with this together, but we will overcome it. Below are the website and phone numbers of four hotlines that you can reach out to right now.
If you are in Florida, the GLBT Center of Central Florida has a crisis hotline set up in the aftermath of the attack. Their number is: 407-227-1446.
The Trevor Project Hotline is always available for LGBTQ youth, and is open to anyone in need of support at this time. You can call them at 866-488-7386.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is here to help. Just call: 800-273-8255.
The National GLBT Center has a national hotline, a youth talk-line and an online peer-support chat. For the national hotline, dial 888-843-4564.
Stay tuned to Milk for more coverage on this developing story.
Images via Getty, Aaron Ricketts, Orlando Sentinel, International Business Times, and Daniel Scott.