All Things Considered Opinion

Lesson Learned: WE MUST


Their names:

Stanley Almodovar III, Amanda Alvear, Oscar A Aracena-Montero,

Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, Antonio Davon Brown, Darryl Roman Burt II, Angel L. Candelario-Padro, Juan Chevez-Martinez, Luis Daniel Conde, Cory James Connell, Tevin Eugene Crosby, Deonka Deidra Drayton, Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, Leroy Valentin Fernandez, Mercedez Marisol Flores, Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, Juan Ramon Guerrero,

Paul Terrell Henry, Frank Hernandez, Miguel Angel Honorato, Javier Jorge-Reyes, Jason Benjamin Josaphat, Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, Anthony Luis Laureanodisla,

Christopher Andrew Leinonen, Alejandro Barrios Martinez, Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, Kimberly Morris, Akyra Monet Murray, Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez, Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, Joel Rayon Paniagua, Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, Enrique L. Rios, Jr., Jean C. Nives Rodriguez,

Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz, Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan, Edward Sotomayor Jr., Shane Evan Tomlinson, Martin Benitez Torres,

Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, Luis S. Vielma, Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon and Jerald Arthur Wright.

They’re the 49 innocent human  beings whose lives  were taken, and an additional 53 human beings were injured at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando.

Where many knew one or more of the 49 in one way or another, many of us did not.  However, that hasn’t stopped so many from reaching out; financially, emotionally – any way we can to show we care.  Hash tags such as #onepulse  #orlandostrong #prayforpulse #prayfororlando were created.  We’ve held (and still have) services, vigils,  rallies, wore/wear various ribbons, even changed our online photos to show each of  them we care.  The reality check:  One of the 49 or 53 could have been one of us.

Once again and no surprise, people of all backgrounds unite in the face of tragedy.  At the time I sent this article to print, a main Go Fund Me account had raised $6,213,685 of a $7,000,000 goal by 115,306 people in 13 days.

Here in Ft. Lauderdale, attorney Tom Runyan initiated a  Facebook page “Love Always Wins“, and has spearheaded peaceful gatherings at the corner of Federal Highway at Oakland Park Boulevard.  The turnout of participants has been remarkable, as has been the community support.  It is amazing to stand out there, signs in hand, and hear the horns honk, see & hear the cameras click along with the waves, smiles and shouts  of praise.  Not just from passers-by in cars or on foot who are LGBTQI persons, but  ALL persons!   It’s truly inspirational.   The gatherings will continue over the  next few weeks.  Check out  the Facebook page for more details.

As always with the good, comes the not so good.

Pastors Kenneth Adkins in Brunswick, Georgia, Pastor Steven Anderson in Phoenix, Arizona and Pastor Roger Jimenez in Sacramento, California, all received media attention by their hate speeches (putting it mildly) praising the killings.  Karma worked quickly for Jimenez as his landlord refused to renew his lease.

Of course, let us not leave out those campaigning.  It has been reported by, that on June 21, 2016, presidential Candidate Donald Trump was meeting with some of the most (in my honest opinion) hateful, vile troublemakers around.    “The meeting will bring together people like Tony Perkins, James Dobson, E.W. Jackson, Pat Robertson, and a host of other Christians known to readers of this site for their anti-LGBT, anti-women, anti-everything-that-is-good-and-decent rhetoric.”  Additionally, Donald said he would seek to overturn the same gender marriage ruling.   Yes, just a few days ago on June 13th, 2016,’s headline was  ” Donald Trump to LGBT community: I’m a ‘real friend’ ” Really, Donald?  With friends like you……..

Is there any lesson?  I believe so.

As we approach the 240th anniversary of America on July 4th, we must remember important words in the Declaration of Independence: “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

It doesn’t say for one.  It is for ALL.  Each of us is responsible to make sure this happens.  The life of a LGBTQI person is not usually an easy one.

WE MUST all take responsibility for our tomorrow.

WE MUST not forget it is and will continue being a lifelong (at least in my lifetime) battle.

WE MUST all fight the fight.  No one or two groups or people can do it alone.

WE MUST not take anything for granted.  It’s time for everyone to be involved.

WE MUST honor those whose lives were taken to get us where we are today.


Many of us are doing our part.  What is yours?

I leave you with the words of Anil Sinha:  “Make your past a learning lesson, make your present purposeful, and prevent your future becoming a constant battle.”

Wishing everyone a safe and Happy 4th of July!

Rev. Joel S. Slotnick is an ordained Interfaith minister and full time digital court reporter. He can be found on Facebook and followed on Twitter.

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