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How to Help When You Feel Sad, Angry, and Hopeless 

How to Help Those Affected by the Orlando Tragedy When You're Feeling Sad, Angry, and Hopeless

How to Help Those Affected by the Orlando Tragedy When You're Feeling Sad, Angry, and Hopeless

Even if you feel hopeless and helpless, there are things you can do for people in need. 


Today, the most devastating shooting in American history occurred in a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. At this point, we know that 50 people were killed and at least 53 have been injured. This is considered the worst terror attack since 9/11, and it was targeted at the LGBT community during Pride month. 

What happened at Pulse is surreal, and it's okay not to know how to react. It's okay to be so horrified, confused, scared, and ultimately numb that you simply don't know what to do. And maybe you're fully realizing that there might not really be anything you can do. Hasn't this happened before? Won't this happen again, and aren't we simply forced to watch and cautiously exist while our country fails to protect its citizens and act on gun control?

But this is our community. This doesn't just hit close to home - these are the people that make up our home. This is a historic terror attack, a hate crime beyond measure. These are our friends we wait to hear from, whose Facebook check-in notifications we never expected would move us to tears. Because even though it sucks that Facebook needs to have this function, there are times when we are overwhelmingly thankful for it. And for those who haven't been able to reach their friends, or who lost friends and loved ones at Pulse today, this is the worst thing that can possibly happen, and our condolences aren't enough. 

In all horrifying honesty, there really is no way for us to have control here. A terrorist bent on taking lives is beyond our control. How they acquire their weapons is beyond our control. And worst of all, perhaps, our government has decided it's beyond its control as well, and after Sandy Hook especially, many officially lost hope that we would ever see change. It's true -- we are not safe, but we are not on our own in how we feel. The only thing we can control is how we help those who need us, and we are needed right now.

I urge you to consider donating to the GoFundMe page for Equality Florida - the state's LGBT civil rights organization - that goes toward supporting the victims of the Pulse attack and their families. Equality Florida's site is also staying updated on blood drive locations, counseling options, and vigil information, all of which you can find here. You can also visit directly to get information on locations and becoming a blood donor if you are eligible (and that's a beast of a conversation within itself).

I also urge you to explore Everytown For Gun Safety and consider making yourself a part of their cause, because Everytown is one of the loudest collective voices in the gun control movement right now, and the more we contribute the louder that voice becomes. 

Personally, I used to be skeptical that the only way to fight gun control is to donate money to a cause fighting an uphill battle that seems to have made no tangible progress over the years. But I didn't see things as I should have, and today I finally fully realized exactly what that money is -- it's our weapon against gun violence. If a terrorist can take a gun and destroy our community, let's take what money we can spare and rebuild it. For every bullet, let's come together and contribute to the recovery of these victims, their medical bills, and, disturbing as this reality is, sometimes their funerals. If you were personally untouched by this tragedy, take a moment to think of the loved ones who not only have to endure it but pay for it. Let's shoulder that burden together so that the people who need to can have the space they need to focus on grief. Prayers mean so much to so many, and by all means, send them, but they are also not going to pay for the help these victims and their families need. If you are not in a financial situation to donate, do your research, write letters to politicians, give blood if you are able. Standing still, staying silent, making excuses is no longer an option. It never really was, and we all seem to be forced to fully realize that in our own time. 

Push past guilt and past inaction. Let your hatred for what's happened, your pain, and your need for change drive you towards making it yourself. We can't change what happened today. What we can do is potentially save the lives of those who might, at this point inevitably, be the next victims. Our government has not protected us. The pride of gun owners unwilling to explore a new way to look at these laws has quite literally killed our own. And we can't let conversations about the shooter distract or make excuses for our government's constant, deadly ignorance. As our weapons evolve, so must our constitutional rights. As much as anyone in this country wants a gun, those 50 people at Pulse and the thousands before them in theaters and schools and in their homes and workplaces wanted their lives. There is no excuse. We have to believe that one day we'll look at this war on the lives of innocent people in this nation as a horrific stain on our history that we've moved on from, though will never forget.

It is Pride month. Our loving, bold, huge-hearted, unstoppable community is in the public eye more than ever - as we should be - but there are precautions we have to take. We are so strong and passionate, and it’s that same strength and power that scares those who don't understand it. We must stay safe this month. We must protect each other. We must give everything we can to stay as strong as we have always been and have worked so hard to be. Help those who need you this weekend and fight for those who will need you in the future. And of course, remember to take care of yourself, stay aware, and be as proud ever to be a part of this beautiful community. 

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

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Preston Max Allen