Millions of families will soon crowd into movie theaters with excited children clutching their popcorn to see one of the most famous fish in the world. She’s likely going to dominate the box office, sell warehouses worth of merchandise and help Disney coast into phase two of its latest billion dollar franchise.

But let’s not forget: It was less than twenty years ago that Ellen DeGeneres, the leading lady of Finding Dory, was banned by the same corporation for being lesbian and (gasp!) playing one on TV.

In the last two decades, the LGBTQA community (That’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and allies for those that may be behind in the recent, more-inclusive acronym) has gone from being completely taboo to even portray to being, well, humanized. The right to be painted into our pop culture landscape, the right to legally declare their love for another person, their right to not be discriminated against — while still not yet perfect — are all wars that they are winning. Just how fast are gay rights progressing? So fast that I’m now officially behind the times if I continue to refer to them exclusively as “gay rights.”

We can dissect the reasons why Orlando’s massacre happened from a tactical standpoint, but what is not up for debate is the fact that it DID happen. Also not up for debate is the fact that this particular mass-murdering scumbag coward targeted the LGBTQA community. That can make us confused, hurt, angry or scared, but it is true. The killer knew that the club was full of gay people and therefore decided to make those people his target.

He may have just poked the sleeping LGBTQA bear.

Recently Governor Pat McCrory of North Carolina — frustrated that his “make certain people feel bad about peeing in public” campaign was getting so much flack — remarked that the LGBTQA community was more powerful than the NRA. Americans may soon have a front row seat to watch how that theory plays out. If McCrory thought the war over bathrooms was bad, just wait until they get organized after forty-nine were slaughtered.

Nearly four hundred mass shootings have happened in our country since the day that a psychopath sent bullets through the bodies of elementary school children. Each time we vow to do more later, or we swallow the knot in our throats and look away. So many of us aren’t built for this kind of battlefield. We’re comfortable. We don’t like conflict. We hate the idea of being hated. And, let’s admit it, we are easily distracted.

These are all luxuries that the LGBTQA community has never had. Decades of hateful rhetoric forced them to become comfortable with the idea that they would always be rejected by at least a group of their neighbors. Lawmakers that look to score cheap political points at their expense have ensured that they are always embroiled in a conflict. You think people might hate you? Try being told on a constant basis by strangers that you’re going to hell.

This community is well-organized, well-funded and now they are beyond angry. For anyone who has had enough of people reading names on a news broadcast; for those of you that are sick of feeling helpless and scared all of the time; for the people that know that there has to be a better solution than doing nothing other than hoping that bullets don’t hit anyone you know, I have good news. Rumor has it that the cavalry has arrived. Sure, it may surprise a few people to realize that it’s a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and allied cavalry. The question is how many of us will be smart enough to join them.


Originally published Huffington Post: