This past month, America experienced one of the deadliest tragedies to ever hit our nation. A gay club in Orlando was shot up by New York native Omar Matteen on Latinx night. Forty-nine club goers were killed, and countless more were in critical condition. If you wish to donate to the families and loved ones of the victims, there is a GoFundMe that you can access from here.
In the wake of this tragedy, countless celebrities and well-known members of the LGBTQIA+ community — as well as some notable straight allies — have spoken out and begged for change. All, of course, got to me since I am a very passionate person with a lot of feelings about human rights, but no video or article impacted me quite like YouTuber Hannah Hart’s video “I’m Afraid of You.”
In the video, Hart says that she’s afraid of us, her viewers, feeling helpless and small. She fears that we will not speak up because we feel like whatever we say will not be worthwhile. This resonated deeply within me because for most of my high school career I have been afraid to speak up and out because of how my peers might respond. A discussion-based class about current events was supposed to be my safe haven, but instead it turned into the class I feared the most due to the people, specifically my male peers, who would fight my every word. Even on the days when they were silent, I couldn’t help but feel like if I made one wrong move, I would have a target on my back.
But, I refuse to let fear rule the way I speak. I refuse to let fear rule the way I think. And I refuse to let fear keep me from helping those in need, including myself. Never again will I delete a Tweet before sending it because “no one cares” or “but they follow me.” Never again will I feel ashamed for calling someone out for being sexist or homophobic or racist. This is best put in words I’m sure you’ve all heard before: “If not me, who? If not now, when?”
In the wake of the Orlando tragedy, I ask you to do the same. Maybe you’re young and this is your first encounter with horror. If so, I’m sorry; but, you can make a change. Maybe you’ve been around the block a few times and have sat through tragedy after tragedy. If so, I’m sorry; but, you can make a change. We all can make a change. Call your congressmen, tell them you’re fed up, tweet them, write them, do whatever it takes to get the ball rolling in the right direction. All of the hashtags and prayers and happy thoughts are great and appreciated, but we need concrete action. I’m tired of watching people die, and I’m tired of waking up day after day to tragedy. Do whatever you can, regardless of how small you think the impact will be. You’re allowed to take up space and have your voice be heard.
And as for those boys who made me feel small, you won’t think I’m so small when I’m the one making your laws one day. See you in D.C.