The recent mass shooting at a Colorado bar catering to the LGBTQ+ community amplified the community's long-standing problem: the hatred directed against them for being "different."
CNN said the suspect, 22-year-old Anderson Lee Aldrich, reportedly opened fire inside Club Q in Colorado Springs using a lone firearm. Aldrich instantly killed five individuals and wounded 25 others. Police have identified the dead as Derrick Rump, Daniel Aston, Kelly Loving, Raymond Green Vance, and Ashley Paugh.
A separate CNN report bared that data from the Gun Violence Archive revealed that there have already been over 200 mass shootings across the U.S. since the start of 2022.
"Since the start of this year (2022), there have been 277 reported mass shootings - an average of more than one per day. See Gun Violence Archive," U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer explained in his dissenting opinion on the case overturning New York's gun legislation.
Data like these show there is much to be done to advance gender equality and curb gender violence in the U.S. and many other countries worldwide. PEW Research bared in an article that 66% of Americans with friends or relatives who are gays or lesbians do not discriminate against same-sex marriage. Meanwhile, 38% of respondents with family members or friends identified as gay or lesbian say they strongly support legislation for the latter to have legal marriage rights.
While some still do not subscribe to the idea of allowing same-sex couples to be wed legally, one can argue that the least we can do is show kindness and civility towards the LGBTQ+ community, which are two things any human being deserves. This is more the case with Christians, who are expected to be kind to everyone regardless of their gender orientation.
Here are 10 ways how Christians could become kinder towards LGBTQ+ people:
1. Use gender-inclusive language. Language can break barriers between people of different cultures, religious beliefs, and gender orientations. As such, you should be careful with the language used to refer to things concerning gender, especially when the language excludes the LGBTQ+ community. Gender-inclusive language can be a way to make LGBTQ+ people feel welcomed, so be sure to observe it at all times.
2. Do not make assumptions about people's gender identity. A person may appear to be a straight male but turns out to be gay or bisexual, while others may seem to act like a lesbian but are straight women. This illustrates that we must be careful not to assume a person's gender orientation based on appearance or mannerisms. Be sure to politely ask when you're uncertain, so you would know how to address the person's gender identity properly.
3. Include issues concerning the LGBTQ+ community in your church discussion. Any Christian religious organization must recognize and address the problems of the LGBTQ+ community, whether the people involved are members or not. By making the LGBTQ+ community's concerns part of your church's agenda, you will be more welcoming to individuals identifying themselves as part of the community.
4. Take their side whenever possible. Aside from highlighting LGBTQ+ concerns in church discussions, Christians should also stand with them on issues where they are the aggrieved party. In the case of the recent gender-targeted gun violence in Colorado Springs, the local police and some churches held vigils honoring the five victims. You or your church could do similar actions to show solidarity and support for their causes and problems.
5. Welcome LGBTQ+ people regardless of social status, religious beliefs, and race. The end goal is to ensure that every Christian knows how to respect and welcome LGBTQ+ individuals who come from different backgrounds, including race, religion, and social status.
6. Publicize your acceptance. It's not enough that you or your church vocalize your acceptance of LGBTQ+ people: you should also publicize it. You may post a sign on your church's doors saying they are welcome, or you may have a short statement on your social media account or website indicating support for and acceptance of LGBTQ+ individuals.
7. Befriend them. Many individuals who identify as LGBTQ+ (whether out or not) feel they are not welcomed or openly discriminated against because of their gender orientation. If you could, take the first move toward striking a conversation leading to a friendship with someone you know to be a part of the LGBTQ+ community. While you're at it, try to encourage fellow Christians to do the same.
8. Conduct activities designed for all genders. Some church activities, unfortunately, do not consider people who identify as LGBTQ+. This fact alienates many such individuals who would otherwise want to explore or practice the Christian faith. This is why church-related activities must be designed and conducted in a way that is respectful and responsive to all gender.
9. Do not intentionally "out" LGBTQ+ people who choose not to publicly acknowledge their gender identity yet. Some people think they all the right in the world to publicly "out" someone they know to be gay, bi-sexual, queer, trans, or lesbian. While this may seem amusing for some, it's one of the cruelest acts anyone could do to a fellow human being. If the person is not yet ready to be "out" in public, then respect it by all means.
10. Just be a generally nice human towards everyone. Christians should be non-discriminatory and should never assume anything. They should also show kindness to every person without looking at that individual's race, religion, or gender. The world will be infinitely better when we are all kind to one another.
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