Myles Lopez, 19, divulged how LGBTQ people — specifically transgender and queer people of color — endure a constant fear of never knowing what to expect from the world. Lopez said despite the dialogue that tragedies like the Pulse shooting creates, it is still difficult to combat the violence and oppression they face.
“Pulse created awareness, and that’s great that people opened their eyes,” Lopez said. “But I feel like in the community and as a society, we need to be paying attention to our LGBTQ brothers, sisters and siblings and making sure they’re OK, or it’s really easy for something like Pulse to happen again.”
Tuesday marked two years since 49 people were shot and killed during a terrorist attack at Pulse, an Orlando nightclub. UF Multicultural and Diversity Affairs is honoring their lives with a call-to-action event on campus.
MCDA and UF LGBTQ Affairs are displaying the pictures and names of the lives lost and have a large dry-erase board with the question, “What will you do to honor these 49 lives?” The event will continue in the Reitz Union in MCDA suite, Room 2203 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day until July 12.
Diana Moreno, assistant director of MCDA, said the board is filled with colorful Post-it notes from students who have made a commitment to spark action from this tragedy.
“It was an event that hit close to home,” Moreno said. “Many of our students knew someone who passed or who was at the club that night.”
Lopez, a student ambassador for UF LGBTQ Affairs, designed the display for the event. Lopez feels that little has changed with gun violence since the Pulse shooting.
The second year women’s studies and psychology major said the best way for people to honor the lives lost is to learn about the LGBTQ community.
Lopez said it can sometimes be overwhelming for LGBTQ people to feel they have the sole responsibility of educating others about what it means to identify as an LGBTQ person of color and be affected by racist and homophobic societies at the same time.
Moreno said this remembrance event is important for UF and Gainesville because it allows LGBTQ individuals who face violence daily to reflect on the people lost. It also commits to building a more inclusive campus and community.
Since the shooting, Moreno has seen MCDA evolve to be more inclusive on campus.
She said the logo of MCDA recently changed to include the brown and black stripes that are a part of the More Color More Pride campaign in order to better represent queer and transgender students of color at UF.
Despite the large number of college students leaving Gainesville in the summer, Moreno said, there are still small actions and events like this occurring throughout the community for Pride Awareness Month.
Committing to vote, becoming civically engaged and participating in student organizations to create a more LGBTQ-inclusive space are a few of the actions taken to honor the queer and transgender lives lost, Moreno said.
“We want to make sure that we not just reflect on folks who we lost, but we also commit to building a more inclusive campus and a more inclusive society for those who are still with us,” Moreno said. “We also want to highlight the positive aspects and the joy and the beauty of the community.”