LOS ANGELES — Eric Paul Leue, executive director of the Free Speech Coalition, has issued the following personal statement on Orlando, addressing the death of at least one adult performer who was killed at Pulse:
When I came out as gay to my mother she barely spoke to me for two weeks. At the end of those two weeks she said “I am not upset with you or about that you are gay, I am upset that I will not always be able to be there to protect you from those that will try to harm you or lay stones in your path just because of who you are.”
Sunday morning, a man who grew up in the U.S. and was surrounded by our country’s culture entered a LGBTQ nightclub armed with assault weapons and killed 49 people. To date, we know that at least one adult performer was among the victims.
We find ourselves numb, heartbroken and overwhelmed by this cowardly and hateful crime.
This does not exist in a vacuum. At least 33 transgender people were killed for who they were in the past year alone. Just last year, an attorney from San Diego tried to introduce a “Shoot the Gays” Ballot Initiative in California, one of the over 250 anti-LGBT bills that have swept state and federal legislatures since 2013. And seemingly every day, we are faced with new bigotry from government officials — such Civil Rights Commissioner Gail Heriot — who suggest that trans people are unstable and mentally ill, or that we should fear them in bathrooms. Our culture teaches us to fear sexuality and sexual identity, and breeds the violence that follows.
For the adult industry, these issues hit particularly close to home. Adult performers and other sex workers are regularly subjected to violence and harassment by those outside the industry. The adult industry is one of the most inclusive communities in the country, and has long been a haven for a wide variety of sexual expression, gender identity and sexuality. But such public expressions can also inspire hate, backlash and fear. So we stand with Orlando, and with Pulse and with all of us who should never have to hide for who we are.
As a community, we mourn the loss of our friend and the 48 other victims, and ask that, as a nation, we join to fight against gun violence, as well as the fight against hate and repression. No parent should have to fear for our safety, let alone mourn.
We ask that you join us in supporting the victims and their families. And we ask that you join the fight to make sure this never happens again.
— Eric Paul Leue, Executive Director of the Free Speech Coalition