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Empathy gap remains a challenge for LGBTQ allies

Ruben Navarrette Jr. on

SAN DIEGO -- As an LGBTQ ally, I am a work in progress. I don't know firsthand what it's like to be rejected or marginalized -- even by family and friends -- because of who I am, so Pride Month is a time for introspection.

My brother and I don't talk much about being Latino, or about being raised in a small farm town, or having an immigrant grandfather.

Because those are experiences we share. Instead, we talk about the thing that separates us: his sexual orientation.

I asked my brother, who is gay, what he wants from allies, including me.

"I expect an open mind, a willingness to learn, and unconditional support," he said as if he had waited for this question for years.

"But most of all, I expect action," he said. "If you're going to talk the talk, then make sure you walk the walk. Show me action."

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What kind of action? I asked.

He immediately referred to what has become known as the Pulse nightclub massacre.

Three years ago -- on June 12, 2016 -- a 29-year-old Muslim American security guard named Omar Mateen entered Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, with a high-powered rifle. He killed 49 people and wounded 53 others.

The FBI considers the shooting a terrorist attack. But, in the LGBTQ community, this was a hate crime -- two times over. Pulse was hosting a "Latin Night" at the time of the shooting, so most of the victims were Latino.

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