I spent a good part of last night packing supplies to be sent to Orlando for the American Library Association convention at the end of the month—books, promotional items, rainbow flags, buttons that say "Y'all Means All".
The ALA convention is scheduled to be a big moment for Interlude Press, my publisher and a company I am devoted to. Our books feature LGBTQ characters. Our writers, editors, artists and readers reflect a spectrum of identity, and the company, though small, has dedicated itself to raising funds for LGBTQ causes. And until this morning, "Orlando" meant good things to come, the promotion of a campaign with a positive and hopeful message, and the work to support it: press releases, presentations, graphics, the works.
And this morning, I woke up to the news of the unconscionable mass shooting in the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, targeting the LGBTQ community—the worst mass shooting in US history, a horrific hate crime. And then the news that a man was arrested here in Los Angeles this morning, on his way to LA Pride from Indiana, carrying weapons and possible explosives.
Whether or not the tragedy in Orlando and the apparent aborted attack in Los Angeles are connected to each other or to international terrorism remain to be seen, but both show how insanely easy it is to get weapons, including high powered semi-automatic weapons, in this country. The gunman in Orlando apparently purchased his AR15 assault rifle just recently.
Where does it end? When do legislators finally stand up to the NRA's cash flow and take a stand against the mass shootings that have become all too common in our country?
I still have books and buttons and boxes strewn across my kitchen island, destined for Orlando. It breaks my heart to look at them right now, but I'm going to buckle down and pack those boxes today, and load them not just with supplies, but with hope.