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“Love Will Drown Hate”: Twitter Expresses Shock And Solidarity After Orlando Shooting

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By Rohini Banerjee:

At least 50 people were killed in Orlando, Florida, on Sunday, when a gunman targeted a gay nightclub, making it one of the deadliest civilian attacks in the United States since 9/11. The shooter, Omar Mateen was apprehended soon after, and claimed ties with ISIS (however, investigations about his claims are still ongoing), and had purchased the guns legally.

The brutality of the shooting has left the world in a frenzy, and has brought up multiple questions into the limelight—of the increasing gun violence in America and the need for gun control, of Islamic extremism, but most importantly, of homophobic hate crimes. While political factions are trying to gloss over the homophobic motivation of the shooting, and focusing on furthering their Islamophobic agendas instead, the threat of violence on the LGBTQ community looms large and potent. Within only a few hours, another gunman was apprehended near the Los Angeles Pride Parade—potentially poised to trigger another mass shooting upon LGBTQ parade-goers. These events, coupled with the ongoing cases of brutality, abuse and violence queer people face on a regular basis show that, even though it’s 2016, being openly LGBTQ—in any part of the world—continues to be a radical, political act which exposes you to the very real threat of violence and death.

“My heart aches for those attacked in a space that was meant to be their own, in a month meant to celebrate their lives,” wrote Twitter user Rachel Feltman, articulating what a lot of people from the LGBTQ community must be feeling at this moment. June is International Pride Month—a month meant to celebrate and revel in one’s queerness, and to embrace one’s identity. To see a gay bar; which is a space for self-expression, of community, for LGBTQ people; gunned down, and the safety and sanctity of that space destroyed, makes the threat of violence all too real.

But what makes the situation seem all too horrific is Florida’s ridiculous laws about gay men being able to donate blood. The homophobic law—which has been in place for years and years—assumes that all sexually active gay men carry sexually-transmitted diseases, and hence cannot donate blood unless they have been celibate for a year. Due to this ridiculous law, countless queer people are now being barred from donating the blood that their own peers, their own community, urgently require.

The situation, from all angles, is bleak. Republicans who actively make policies against marriage equality and adoption equality are piggybacking on this tragedy to spread Islamophobic hate and no political authority is really addressing the homophobic aspect of it all. However, the LGBT community stands strong. The Los Angeles Pride Parade, which happened later on Sunday, carried strong messages in support of the Orlando victims, and photos and videos posted on social media showed thousands from the queer community lining up to donate blood. As John Oliver says in his segment on the Orlando shooting, the Orlando shooter is vastly outnumbered. Since the moment of the attack, Twitter has been overflowing with not just messages of shock and horror, condemning the shootings, but has also been flooded with messages of solidarity and support which shows that in the end, our love will drown out all the hate.

“The most deadly shooting in American history.”

“Deadliest terror attack since 9/11.”

Eddie, a hostage inside the club, sent text messages to his mother while hiding in the bathroom. Horrifying, to say the least.
“Mommy I love you”
“In club they shooting”
“He has us”
“I’m gonna die”
“He’s in the bathroom with us”

he has us
As telecast on WFTV-TV

These people weren’t at the club, but the attack hit real close to home.

“My sister in law knew the shooter.”

“My brother in law lost 11 friends today. He works security in clubs in Orlando.”

“My friend’s friend is missing and that man’s boyfriend is dead.”

“Just existing as a gay person is an act of bravery.”

“Well deserved for those kinds of people”? : A lot of people are talking about living with fear and why such hate crimes need to end.

“She said it was well deserved.”

“My brother is worried about hate crime. He is 15.”

“Being gay, loving each other, can be deadly.”

Twitter users are also driving the point home that the shooter had a gun, because it’s easy to get one in America.

“If gun laws aren’t changed, hate will always win.”

“Human lives matter more than guns.”

Some are also pointing out the ridiculousness of the bathroom bills which discriminates against trans people in this context:

Some prominent queer celebrities came out in solidarity

Laverne Cox

Ellen Page

Ellen DeGeneres

#ChooseLove and #LoveIsLove: People hope that tomorrow will be a better day.

A 7-year-old writes: “I wish that people is loving as can be. It is not normal when you hate somebody when they are not same as you. I pray for those families that lost their children.”

“Senseless violence accomplishes nothing.”

“I’m tired of the hate.”

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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