Since the hate crime assault on the Latinx LGBT crowd at Pulse night club in Orlando, many public figures have offered their “thoughts and prayers” to the victim’s families and to the survivors. While I’m sure it was intended by some to convey their real sympathies, many more of the politicians and religious leaders are trying to cover up their role in the attack. The thing about thoughts and prayers is anyone can offer them, no matter how hypocritical. No matter how hateful or bigoted.
Thoughts and prayers are also internal. While I do want heterosexuals to seriously contemplate their conscious and subconscious biases, I don’t think that counts as a gift or offering. It’s part of an outstanding social debt. Prayers maybe well intended, but for many LGBT people, straight religion is synonymous with bigotry, rejection, and abusive “therapy” to make us act like heterosexuals. “I’ll pray for you” can feel like a punch to the gut when prayer was used as a weapon against you.
We don’t need thoughts and prayers after we are killed. We need you to stop killing us. Victims in Orlando need money for hospital bills. They need funds to make up their lost wages. They need anti discrimination laws so they can’t be fired for being gay/bi or trans. The mostly Latinx LGBT survivors need very much for Donald Trump not to become the next president. They need you to stop barring them from bathrooms and housing and adoption.
Thoughts and prayers don’t mean much without action. They’re usually an appropriate response to a natural disaster. But this disaster wasn’t natural. It was planned by the gunman, inspired by religious leaders and politicians, supported by internet bigots, and facilitated by easy access to major firepower. Thoughts and prayers won’t fix this. The gunman thought and prayed in advance. Your thoughts and prayers can’t undo his actions.