It's been 8 days since the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. On June 12th, 49 people were killed and 53 wounded by a gunman at a gay nightclub in Orlando.
It's sickening. It's a tragedy. It's a devastating act of terrorism and bigotry. And I still don't know what to do or say. I'm not sure if writing this blog post is not my place or uncalled for on my photography platform. But please bear with me and definitely feel free to educate me further in the comments!
As a heterosexual woman who still has so much to learn about how to be an LGBTQIA ally, I've stayed pretty quiet due to fears of intrusion or occupying space that isn't mine. It would seemingly be easy for me to move on, to not spend much time or energy reflecting on what happened. I could tweet a hashtag, add a rainbow filter somewhere, and then forget. But that doesn't seem right.
More effort and compassion must be spread.
As a friend, I'm going to try harder and educate myself more about being an ally. When I hear hateful language being spewed, I'll speak up. While I can't fairly understand the depth of sadness, struggle and frustration that the queer community faces, I'll try to be a better listener.
As a voter and citizen, I'm going to back candidates who support gun control and are against homophobia and transphobia. I will learn more about how to take direct action and how to exercise my democratic rights, supporting those views.
And as a photographer, I hope to create a safe and welcoming environment for everyone. I won't discriminate potential clients based off their race, social status, or sexual orientation. I won't tolerate any hate or bigotry directed at potential clients. While I haven't photographed an LGBTQIA couple or family yet, I hope that will happen soon. When that time comes, I will be thankful for the opportunity to learn, expand my horizons, and make new friends.
Two Ways I Plan To Contribute
1. Photographers For Orlando
Until August 2016, I will be accepting contributions in place of session fees to benefit the victims of the Pulse shooting in Orlando, Florida.
Here's how it works:
1. Get in touch with me via the Contact page.
2. You will send your donation of $50 or more via a Venmo or Paypal invoice, I will then donate the money instantly to either GoFundMe.com/pulsevictimsfund or OneOrlando.org and provide you with a copy of the receipt.
3. We will meet for up to 45 minutes, capture fun memories, and I will send you a minimum of 20 high-resolution digital images.
[Not in New York? Find a participating photographer at http://www.photographersfororlando.org]
2. Free LGBTQIA Couples Sessions
Until September 2016, I will be booking FREE sessions for LGBTQIA couples on select dates, for anyone based in the greater New York City area. So hit me up and let's make this happen!
Those 49 people at Pulse were having a joyful night out when they were murdered. They were brothers, sister, daughters and sons. They were lovers, friends, neighbors, caretakers.
Let's not forget their names.
Stanley Almodovar III, 23 years old
Amanda Alvear, 25 years old
Oscar A Aracena-Montero, 26 years old
Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33 years old
Antonio Davon Brown, 29 years old
Darryl Roman Burt II, 29 years old
Angel L. Candelario-Padro, 28 years old
Juan Chevez-Martinez, 25 years old
Luis Daniel Conde, 39 years old
Cory James Connell, 21 years old
Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25 years old
Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32 years old
Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, 31 years old
Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25 years old
Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26 years old
Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22 years old
Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22 years old
Paul Terrell Henry, 41 years old
Frank Hernandez, 27 years old
Miguel Angel Honorato, 30 years old
Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40 years old
Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19 years old
Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30 years old
Anthony Luis Laureanodisla, 25 years old
Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32 years old
Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21 years old
Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, 49 years old
Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25 years old
Kimberly Morris, 37 years old
Akyra Monet Murray, 18 years old
Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20 years old
Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez, 25 years old
Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36 years old
Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32 years old
Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35 years old
Enrique L. Rios, Jr., 25 years old
Jean C. Nives Rodriguez, 27 years old
Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35 years old
Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz, 24 years old
Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan, 24 years old
Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34 years old
Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33 years old
Martin Benitez Torres, 33 years old
Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, 24 years old
Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37 years old
Luis S. Vielma, 22 years old
Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, 50 years old
Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37 years old
Jerald Arthur Wright, 31 years old
Learn more about these beautiful folks here: http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/06/12/481785763/heres-what-we-know-about-the-orlando-shooting-victims