Less than a week after the Orlando massacre left at least 50 people killed at a nightclub, the physical risks that LGBTQ people face in America are becoming abundantly clear. A New York Times analysis of data collected by the FBI shows just what that risk looks like in the U.S.: LGBTQ people are more likely to be targets of hate violence than any other minority group in the country.
LGBTQ people are twice as likely become targets of hate violence than African-Americans and recently surpassed Jewish Americans as the most targeted minority group in the country, according to the analysis.
The numbers help put into perspective the debate among politicians about whether the Orlando massacre was a hate crime or an act of terrorism. The reality is that it could be both, but while American politicians are well-versed in denouncing acts of terror, the implications of hate crime of historic proportions is a reality that lawmakers aren't entirely equipped to deal with.
"Sometimes officials make very strange calls when it comes to hate crimes," Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center in Alabama, said in an interview with Mic's Aaron Morrison after the Orlando massacre. "The reality is that most people's motives are very mixed up."
He added: "We'll learn less about his motivation than we might have if he had survived the shooting."
Admitting that the Orlando massacre was driven by homophobia, and that it's an extreme example of the violence LGBTQ people face in America, requires conservative politicians to acknowledge LGBTQ people's humanity, according to advocates.
"We must understand this event as a consequence of the homophobia, biphobia and transphobia that permeates our everyday environments, such as workplaces, schools, and homes that we all have the responsibility to challenge," Emily Waters, research and education coordinator for the Anti-Violence Project, a national LGBTQ organization, said after the shootings.
This week, Waters and AVP released a report that added even more context to anti-LGBTQ violence in America. In it, they found that anti-LGBTQ murders rose by 20% between 2014 and 2015, and that transgender women of color are twice as likely to be targeted than their white counterparts.
"We need to challenge the anti-LGBTQ legislation that is popping up all over the country, and call out the inherent homophobia and transphobia in these bills that incites violence against LGBTQ people," Waters wrote in an email to Mic. "We need policies that promote non-discrimination, but it's important to be thoughtful in developing these policies to ensure that all of our diverse communities are centered."