• Description

June is the month when we annually celebrate LGBT pride and commemorate the Stonewall riots, which were an important turning point in the movement for the rights and well-being of sexual and gender minorities in the United States and elsewhere. On June 12, 2016, a gunman opened fire in the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Pulse was a gay club, and June 12 was Latin night. People of different backgrounds, sexual orientations, gender identities, and ethnicities were there as patrons, performers, and employees, and most were young and Latinx. The gunman brutally murdered 49 people and wounded 53. Mass shootings and hate crimes targeting LGBT people are especially potent forms of violence. They terrorize not only those immediately and physically impacted, but the entire community. They powerfully reinforce the sense that LGBT people must practice constant vigilance to protect themselves from stigma and violence. They shatter an already fragile sense of security and teach LGBT people that places they thought were safe may not be. Gay bars and clubs have historically been safe venues for LGBT people and their friends to gather, be themselves, have fun, meet others, and build community—a haven when families, schools, workplaces, and religious communities are unwelcoming or worse. While mass shootings like the one at Pulse, or at houses of worship, schools, and elsewhere, receive and deserve extensive media and public attention, they are an uncommon form of firearm violence in our country relative to other types of violence. As this report details, among firearm deaths each year in the general U.S. population, about 60% are suicides and about 37% are homicides, many of which happen between current or former intimate partners. Thus, when we think about gun violence and how to prevent it, our view must be broad and multi-faceted. As we discuss in this report, many questions about gun violence against sexual and gender minorities in this country are unanswered or unexplored. For example, research shows elevated prevalence of suicide attempts among LGBT people, and that guns are usually lethal when used in an attempted suicide. But, we have almost no research on suicide deaths of LGBT people (or all sexual and gender minorities) and the role of firearms in them. Without such research, it is challenging to design prevention strategies. By mapping existing research and research needs on a variety of gun violence topics, we hope that this report will inform understanding, spark better data collection and insightful studies, and ultimately help create effective interventions.