(EDITOR'S NOTE: NALGAP president Phil McCabe offered to Addiction Professional these personal thoughts about this past weekend's tragedy in Orlando.)
Fear is the greatest weapon of the terrorists. If we give into fear, they win. We stand together, we stand strong and we stand proud. And let's be clear, while gun control is important, it is not the issue. The issue is homophobia. This was an attack on a gay nightclub, an attack to kill LGBTQ individuals and their friends who were out having fun.
Every politician, religious leader, institution and person who has spoken against the gay and trans community has created this problem. Everyone who says religious exemption allows them to discriminate against another person because of sexual orientation and gender expression reinforces heterosexism and transphobia. It's a learned behavior that is taught. And we need to make it stop.
We need to pass federal laws that protect all citizens. We need to tell states, “No, you cannot decide that some of your citizens do not deserve equal protection under the law.” We need to hold those who preach hate accountable and stop giving them tax benefits and other rights as they justify their rights to bring harm to others. And we need to hold politicians accountable when they continue to withhold equality laws from being passed because of personal moral beliefs. These are the beliefs that put the bullets in the gun that was used.
When addiction professionals fail to provide treatment that is affirming of a client's sexual orientation and preferred gender, they are contributing to the problem. When a client hears homophobic or transphobic comments from a fellow client and the staff fail to intervene, they have failed the entire community. We need to take hold of the teachable moments and educate them on tolerance and respect for all.
We need to move past worrying about which bathroom someone uses and where people pee. And worry about the innocent that were murdered on a Saturday night because they chose to seek comfort in a nightclub where being with others like yourself should feel safe.
Everyone needs to stand together and say, “Enough,” we can no longer allow our children to be slaughtered or to harm themselves because of who they love or because they express their gender. We are all Orlando, we are all Pulse nightclub, and we are all family.
We will not be denied by those we elect, and the institutions that preach hate, not with my tax dollars. For as long as there is a pulse in my body and a beat in my heart I will continue to dance with my friends, to attend the parades and gay pride festivals. And I will continue to support my community and speak out for as long as I need to. Being a proud gay man is who I am, and being an agent of change is what I do. I believe in the power of recovery. I am not alone in the struggle; there are many addiction professionals who stand together as we fight social injustice. And to those who perpetrate hate crimes against people for being diferent, your hate doesn't scare me. I believe love conquers all.