These are people who understand that if you’re gay or transgender, you can’t simply hope that laws will protect you. They won’t. And you can’t rely on the police. Orlando is proof you could bleed to death in the time it takes for them to stop the shooter.
What happened in Orlando was not just an attack on America, it was an attack on L.G.B.T. people. While America at large debates what laws could have prevented this, what role Islam plays, and which political party is to blame, we need to get practical: If you don’t defend yourself, no one else will.
Most would agree — as do I — that violence is rarely the answer, and it’s never a first line of defense. But when my friends tell me they’d rather die than resort to violence, I tell them fine, I’ll light a candle at your vigil. It’s your choice. But those are the stakes. Don’t kid yourself otherwise.