Nonprofit community in spotlight after mass shooting in Orlando
I really hate writing about national tragedies. I sometime worry that all of this media attention (e.g. television, radio, blogosphere) simply rewards sick people who seek this exact type of attention (e.g. their 15-minutes of fame). In spite of this belief, I’ve had a few epiphanies this week as I mourn the events of Orlando with my LGBTQ friends and all of my fellow Americans, and I really want to share. So, please forgive my hypocrisy for the next few minutes.
Realization #1: Lots of blame to go around
As I’ve attempted to process this most recent horrific shooting, I couldn’t help but watch the news. In doing so, I’ve heard so many different people and groups stand-up to condemn what they believe is the root cause of this catastrophe. Interestingly, there are many different groups who cannot seem to agree on what the driving force was behind the Orlando massacre.
After days of listening to others and trying to make sense of it all, here are all of the things I’ve been told by others to blame:
- Lack of gun control
- Mental illness
- Homophobia (externalized and perhaps even internalized homophobia)
After almost a week of watching news reports and television shows, I’ve come to two conclusions:
- I need to stop watching TV because anyone with an opinion seems to be getting a chance to voice it
- There are likely many different reasons why this gunman did what he did
Realization #2: Homophobia in all forms is harmful
Two weeks ago, I wrote a blog post titled “Time to address homophobia in the non-profit sector?” I focused on my experiences over the last two decades as a member of the LGBTQ community trying to work in the non-profit sector. Most importantly, I tried to talk about my internalized homophobia and reactions to institutional homophobia and just homophobia in general.
My internalized homophobia has caused me to:
- quit jobs
- lie to friends, colleagues and clients
- impose upon those who I love (e.g. my husband)
- engage in self-destructive behavior (e.g. overeating, etc)
To bottom line this realization, HATE is one of the most powerful and motivating emotions known to humankind. I suspect that where there is HATE (regardless of whether it is homophobia, racism, sexism, misogyny, etc) there will always be a high likelihood of violence.
Realization #3: Non-profits bear responsibility for this mess and will also be the solution
I’m sure many of you probably think I’ve lost my mind. After all, what rationale could I possibly come up with that would allow me to blame non-profit organizations for this mess and charge them with fixing it?
Please join me in reviewing the list of non-profit organizations that I heard/read mentioned in news coverage this last week:
- Democratic National Committee
- Republican National Committee
- National Rifle Association
- The Brady Campaign
- The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence
- Newtown Action Alliance
- Everytown for Gun Safety (Michael Bloomerberg’s non-profit org)
- OneOrlando Fund (fund set-up to raise money to support non-profits helping victims of this shooting)
- Equality Florida
- Human Rights Campaign (aka HRC)
- Mental Health America (interviewed by The Washington Post)
- Council on American-Islamic Relations
I’m willing to bet if I tried a little harder that I could double this list. All of these groups are non-profit organizations. Some of these organizations have been blamed for the problem, and others are rushing in to help address it.
However, I want to take this point one step further with the following random non-profit thoughts as they pertain to solving our country’s mass shooting crisis:
- I’m interested to see how the NRA reacts to the legislative push to outlaw people on the terror watch list from being able to legally purchase guns
- I’m interested to see how after-school programs will embrace diversity programming to help kids appreciate our differences rather than hate and bully
- I’m interested to see how churches rally and Muslim mosques rally their congregations in the name of love (and likewise which ones will embrace hate)
- I’m interested to see how mental health non-profits addressing the issue of gun rights and the rights of their clients in addition to looking at homophobia differently
- I’m interested to watch the Democratic Party and the Republican Party try to spin the Orlando shooting into political gain in November
- I’m interested to see if organizations like the Council on American-Islamic Relations can stop anti-Muslim legislation and help foster a healthy interfaith dialog
- When will organizations like the Boy Scouts of America finally stop teaching kids that gay people can’t be trusted to be leaders because their values are different (thus helping create another generation of gay scouts who struggle with internalized homophobia and straight scouts who look down upon LGBTQ individuals)
So, what do you think now? Lots of “non-profit stuff” going on when it comes to the Orlando shooting, right? Please use the comment box to share your thoughts, experiences and concerns. Nothing is off limits. All I ask is that you keep it civil.
Here’s to your health!
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC