Two days ago, the world (and especially the United States) woke up to absolutely terrifying and devastating news. The largest mass shooting in U.S. history had occurred at a gay bar in Orlando, Florida, killing 50 people. I'm sure that you've heard about the atrocity. I have never been hit so hard by any piece of news.
I suddenly was so ashamed to be American. If this is what our country allows, and if change has not happened for so long, when? When? I still cannot fathom what happened. Although there are multiple issues being debated in light of this shooting, including gun control and islamophobia, I would like to focus on homophobia for today, and what literature can do to combat it.
Always trying to keep a wide circle of friends and acquaintances, I have met many members of the LGBTQ+ community. In fact, some of them have become my closest friends, ones I can rely on during times of extreme hardship. The shooting spurred so much sorrow and anger when I realized that change has barely happened in society's attitude towards the LGBTQ+ community. They are human, wanting nothing but to love who they love and be who they are.
So why is there this fiery hatred, this ignorant cruelty? Why do people STILL not tolerate love? I have tried to understand the opposite side, but find it close to impossible to find any justification for homophobia. Too many times we have complained silently or whined on social media without taking real action at the pain of others. So I am doing what I can: encouraging reading.
As I have said again and again, literature connects. It helps us to understand and see perspective. I am not a member of the LGBTQ+ community; I am merely an ally. I do not, and will never, understand their emotional turmoil and the absolute courage it must take to show themselves to the world. But reading books takes me into the minds of characters struggling with this issue, and lets me understand just a little bit more.
Please, please, please read more diversely. Read books written by LGBTQ+ authors with LGBTQ+ characters, and promote diverse reading to everyone.
Here are a few of my favorites (I need to take my own advice, as I haven't read as many as I should have.)