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We Exist.

I'm fucking heartbroken.

No to homophobia.

Legislate guns.

We aren't scared.

We will not be oppressed.

No to hate.

We are one.

We exist.

Language warning. Please excuse any profanity in the post below.

I don't usually write posts like this. I very deliberately stay away from politics and topical events on my site, because there's enough of that news and writing in the world as it is. But today, I felt forced to share my part of the story of how the community in which I live has been affected by today's news.

I woke up this morning to the news - "worst mass shooting in US history". I didn't quite know what to make of it; you sort of hear it and you can't quite ingest it. I'd heard the newsline before from Australia's story of Port Arthur. It echoed a lot of memories for me from that day of scrambling, wondering, worrying, praying, fearing. Fearing for everyone involved and hoping to God that everyone I knew was OK.

The fact is that today, everyone wasn't OK. This wasn't just any isolated terror event. It was an attack on so many different levels - lifestyle, sexuality, religion, the list goes on. And the even scarier thing is, that it keeps on happening. America seems powerless to stop it. Each time something like this happens here I run the gamut of emotions from "fuck it I'm moving back to Australia" through to "Jesus Christ, I hope everyone is OK" through to "holy shit this is going to happen to me some day" through to "why does this keep happening?!"

Later in the afternoon, I heard there was going to be a candlelight vigil for the victims. I decided to go down to the park to join in and show my support. Immediately you could tell this wasn't any old community gathering. Even though incidents of this kind are common in America, this time, something finally felt different. Change is being demanded.

A lady took the stage and addressed the crowd. I wish I could remember her name. "I'm muslim, I'm queer, and I exist.", she said. The crowd joined in, "We exist! We exist! We exist!", they chanted back in support.

It's hard not to be impacted by this. Everywhere around me people were in tears. Even though it was something that happened all the way over in Orlando, it's an attack on our freedom, our choices, and our way of life. It's completely tragic that it takes something like this to bring everyone together so emphatically, but oh-so-wonderful to see the community banding together and standing up for what they believe in.

And that's just what happened. In spite of this horrific event, people rally. People come together and celebrate love, pride, and each other. And the freedom to be whoever the fuck they want to be. Each and every day. I bumped into one guy who was carrying a sign, "You can't kill love". I wish I'd gotten to take his picture. But you know what? He's absolutely right. This is what pride is. This is what community is. And together, tonight, it was abundantly clear just how much stronger the people in this community are compared to the cowards who choose to cheaply and cowardly assault the lives and the beliefs of others.

We exist.

Click here to support the victims of the shooting at Orlando's Pulse nightclub.

Jacob Lucas

Seattle, WA, USA