On Sunday morning, June 12, at about 2 AM, a lone gunman walked into the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, shooting and killing 49 people, wounding at least 53. As all of us are mourning the loss of these victims and healing from this tragedy that took place, it's been especially difficult for a community that I'm in fact a part of; the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, who were targeted at this gay nightclub early Sunday morning. It's now been nearly a year since the historic Supreme Court ruling making same-sex marriage the law of the land and as we celebrate the progress that we've made in the middle of this Pride month, it's deeply disturbing and heartbreaking that something of this magnitude could occur in this day and age. When gay marriage was legalized nationwide, many assumed that homophobia and hatred towards the LGBT community would be gone forever, yet with this mass shooting occurring at a gay nightclub this weekend, it's clear that's not the case at all.

The shooter, Omar Mateen, a 29-year-old man from Fort Pierce, Florida, pledged allegiance to ISIS during a 911 call before the attack and ISIS themselves claimed responsibility for the attack, however their full role still remains unclear. As details remain murky on the terrorist group's level of involvement in this attack, it's important to know that ISIS condemns homosexuality and it remains punishable by death. The shooter's own father said early Monday in a message to the people of Afghanistan that "gays should be punished by God". Mateen's father also claimed that his son wasn't motivated by religion and became upset after seeing two men kissing in Miami a few months ago.

As someone with deep ties to the LGBT community, it's very hard for me not to get emotional when thinking about this horrible event that took place. Yet even without any connection to this community, what occurred on Sunday affects us all and we all should stand in solidarity. Whatever you think of the LGBT community, these victims were simply just people, going to this nightclub to dance, to be with friends, and have a fun time. As some like Donald Trump are trying to politicize this event by claiming how they were 'right' about radical Islamic terrorism, it's important to realize that no matter how your views may stand on gay rights, those killed on Sunday were people just like us, simply wanting to be with their loved ones and those they cared about. As Boise's own gay pride celebration approaches this weekend, it's vital that we stand strong and refuse to let this devastating event ruin our spirits. We must all stand against any hatred, no matter the community targeted. Homophobia and hatred towards the LGBT community remain deeply rooted throughout our society and it's up to us all to stand against it.