Statement from SAGE Metro Detroit Director Angie Perone

Our hearts our heavy as we mourn the lives taken during a mass shooting at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub early Sunday morning on June 12, 2016. These individuals died while celebrating life, celebrating who they are, and celebrating another Saturday night with friends and chosen family.

They were diverse in their gender, sexual orientation, race, national origin, religion, and age, but united in their quest for fun, companionship, and acceptance.

While we may never know the shooter’s complete motivation, the sad reality is that LGBT people are forced to live with attacks on their lives every day. Lawmakers continue to propose and defend anti-LGBT laws that preclude us from using bathrooms and other public accommodations.

We remain excluded from laws that prohibit discrimination in employment, education, and healthcare. We experience threats, assaults, and intimidation for failing to conform to gender norms or expectations about how and who we should love.

But in spite of all of this, we don’t live in fear. Despite decades of violence and exclusion, our communities continue to grow with resilience and strength, as we fight for change. The victims of the Orlando shootings are proof of this. They died while fearlessly celebrating their lives. And it is with equal fearlessness that we must continue to celebrate their lives and our own. 

This Saturday, on June 18, 2016, SAGE Metro Detroit will host our sixth annual LGBT Older Adult Summit, and this year’s theme of “Let the Good Times Roll” could not be more fitting. We must not be deterred  from living our lives. Let us honor the individuals who lost their lives in Orlando by showing that we will never cease celebrating our right to exist, enjoy life and let the good times roll.

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Angie Perone, director of SAGE Metro Detroit