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Social Issues

Jonesboro Citizens call for unity against hate during vigil

The names of those who lost their lives in a mass shooting in Orlando were read during a candlelight vigil at Arkansas State last night (Monday).  A light rain fell over a crowd of concerned citizens and members of Jonesboro’s LGBTQ community who mourned those who lost their lives early Sunday morning. 

Those at the vigil were not only remembering the victims, but were also standing in solidarity against hate that practically all members of the LGBTQ community face.  Dee D’Amico is a mother and a grandmother and has been a lesbian for 25 years.  She says her heart broke when she heard the news coming out of Orlando.

“I felt so bad for those parents who didn’t know anything.  The fact that someone could just walk in there and not have any regard for human life--regardless of their sexual orientation, their color, their nationality, their beliefs--I can’t describe how I feel in words.”

D’Amico says she felt scared for members of the LGBTQ community that live in Jonesboro who face threats, harassment, and hatred because of the way they live.  Michael Williams is transgender and gay and says nightclubs, such as the one in Orlando, provide people with an outlet to feel safe.

“There are not a lot of places where LGBTQ and others can express who they are without their safety being a concern.  When something like this happens, it is violation of a sanctuary.”

Williams tells what some of the main concerns are.

“I am just worried about the rhetoric on social media and through the actions of politicians and other leaders.  This contributes to the hatred that we are seeing.”

Dee D’Amico says more education about members of the LGBTQ community is needed.

“To the people who look at us as a disgrace, I hope the actions over the weekend will change some minds of these people who have so much hate for us.  I hope this changes some hearts so people can see that we want to live an equal life as well.”

Those members of the LGBTQ community encouraged those in attendance to speak out against lawmakers that try to pass laws that may discriminate against members of the LGBTQ community, as well as to start the conversation about the need for education and understanding about issues affecting members of that community.