Like a church to a Christian, or a mosque to a Muslim, nightclubs are centers of fellowship, celebration and reverence to a queer community. Why? When our family discards us, our friends reject us, and our religion wages a war against our right to love, we search for congregation. We learn to celebrate life where we are allowed to love.

We commemorate “Pride” every June, a pivotal moment in queer history, when from within the walls of a nightclub, 47 years ago, an equality movement was born.

To understand the unique grief of the queer community one must understand our connection to our congregations. A gunman took aim inside our mosque. He spilled blood in our church. He killed our children, and laid terror on our doorstep.

I want to believe that the pain is shared by every American, but only a couple years ago you did not think us equal enough to marry. And if you do not believe that we deserve the same rights, or the same freedoms, or employment protections, why would I think you care if I bleed?

I am certain of one thing: Queers are no stranger to violence. We can take a punch. It is in our DNA to churn hate into equality. Bullets are only more steel in our resolve.

Violence only gives us a #Pulse.

Gary Wagner