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Brett Morian, from Daytona Beach, hugs an attendee during a candlelight vigil Sunday, June 12, 2016 following an attack at gay nightclub in Orlando on Saturday that claimed the lives of 50 people. (Photo: Joshua Lim/Orlando Sentinel)

They’re Killing Us. Help Us Stop Them.

A message from a new generation unwilling to accept hatred and bigotry: 'Follow us and we will lead you.'

Grace Dolan-Sandrino

They’re killing us. Help us stop them. They are making laws in this country against us.

I’ve been more excited and then more terrified by this weekend’s rollercoaster of emotions than I ever thought possible.

On Friday, I felt amazingly supported and empowered and valued by President Obama, by my LGBTQ community, by my school and by my family and friends and neighbors as I took part in the first-ever White House Summit for African American LGBTQ Youth. I was so happy.

"I’m only fifteen years old but I know what it’s like to have deep love and support and I’ve witnessed and been the object of deep hatred and ignorance. I feel angry and I feel heartbroken by this massacre. I’ve learned that love wins over hate. My generation wants love, we want diversity, we want equity, we want inclusion. We demand our human rights."

On Saturday, I was full of joy and pride as I marched during the Pride Parade in our nation’s capitol with the most beautiful, loving wonderful people I’ve ever seen all in one place. Every race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and gender identity, dancing and singing. We celebrated ourselves, each other, our allies, our joy, our love and our bright futures. We were so beautiful and full of promise. I was so proud to be an afro-latina-anglo transgender teen.

Then Sunday, June 12, 2016. I woke up to find that a homophobic, transphobic hatred-filled assassin, brutally murdered fifty of our young, innocent, beautiful, beloved community, injuring over fifty more. They say he is a US-born Islamic terrorist. But his hatred echoes the headlines I see of right-wing US fundamentalists calling for discrimination and erasure of my rights as a human being. His hatred echoes the oppression and killings and arrests of my black and Latin@ brothers and sisters on the streets, in the schools and in our prisons. His hatred echoes of the rhetoric expressed by Donald Trump when he and his supporters proudly trumpet the sentiment to keep out all Muslims and Latin@s from our country-by force- and to keep LGBTQ people from marrying each other, even to denying us the right to pee in peace.

I’m not trying to be partisan. I’m just observing that President Obama held a summit to tell us how valued we are. Donald Trump and many other conservative lawmakers want to erase us. A culture of fear and bigotry is again taking hold of this country. You do the math.

I’m only fifteen years old but I know what it’s like to have deep love and support and I’ve witnessed and been the object of deep hatred and ignorance. I feel angry and I feel heartbroken by this massacre. I’ve learned that love wins over hate. My generation wants love, we want diversity, we want equity, we want inclusion. We demand our human rights.

We know many of you are allies and we need you. And you need us.

My generation wants to lead. We want to determine our own future. We want you not just to love us, but to support us and to listen to us. If you don’t understand, ask us. Ask us who we are and what we need.

We all need to stop the passing of laws aimed to hurt us and to erase us. Stop supporting a gun culture. Stop supporting politicians who want to exploit and exclude immigrants.  Stop expelling and suspending and arresting and incarcerating us. Stop trying to oppress us. It won’t work. We are stronger than you think.

We are Generation Z, we come of age in 2018, and we are here to lead. We need your help. We need your support. The future is majority black and brown and queer. Race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and gender identity exist on a spectrum. Don’t be afraid of it. It is beautiful. It is human. It is truth. Terrorists and religious fundamentalists—both home-grown and those overseas—don’t understand. Conservative politicians and voters don’t understand. Some liberals don’t understand.  We will help you to understand. Stand with us. Stand against hate. Pass gun control. People pull the triggers. Sometimes 103 times in a small space.

Follow us and we will lead you off the rollercoaster of fear and terror and onto the mountaintop of love and liberation and it is there that I hope you will understand us.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

Grace Dolan-Sandrino

Grace Dolan-Sandrino is a Peer Educator at SMYAL, a participant in the White House Summit for African American LGBTQ Youth and a transgender teen activist. Please note that though affiliated with SMYAL, the author's views on these pages are her own and do not reflect those of any other group or organization.


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