There is no place where you are absolutely safe. No place in the world.
The men and women whom my church’s Refugee Guardian Group has helped all fled their home countries to avoid being beaten or killed because of their sexual orientation.
Most of our clients come from Muslim countries. They know first-hand the deadly acts against LGBT people carried out in the name of Islam. The news from Florida this morning must have sounded frighteningly familiar.
Today I contacted the four men for whom I have been a mentor. I wanted to check in. How were they after the murders at Pulse in Orlando?
The young men I contacted are used to society applauding attacks against LGBT’s. They are used to both the civil and religious authorities joining in the violence against sexual minorities. I wanted to reassure my guys that in the United States the government tries to protect us. In Florida, the police shot and killed the religious terrorist. I wanted my young men to feel safer and not to flash back to the helpless insecurity that they had in their country of birth.
The fight for safety is universal.
None of is completely shielded from attacks by delusional zealots who are certain that they are following God’s orders. We are not safe in Russia, Iran, Tunisia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Uganda, Cameroon, Iraq,… or even in the United States, in the United Kingdom, or in Canada. Gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or straight: none of us is 100% secure.
But, at least in the United States, the crazed, divisive, self-proclaimed prophets do not represent the spirit of the nation.
Attacks by madmen justifying themselves by spouting their understanding of God’s will are blessedly uncommon in 2016 in the United States. That type of attack is very common and condoned in the countries from which our refugees and asylum seekers fled.
Today’s massacre reinforces how important it is for us to help LGBT people who have escaped the official persecution of their country of birth. We need to find ways to welcome more of them in the [relative] safety of the United States.
Help the San Francisco Refugee Guardian Group if you can, start your own Guardian Group, or simply contact me for more information if I can help.
Let us hold the good things in our lives a little tighter today.