In the face of violence, choose Pride.

We are heartbroken this morning by the tragedy that took so many lives from our vibrant community. We stand in solidarity with our LGBTQ+ family in Florida - and especially with you, our young ones, our readers.

Last October, we released the third issue of Iris and told you that we needed to take some time off to redefine the magazine to better serve you, our readers, with a goal of giving greater voice to the incredible young people who read it. We had planned to tell you all about it on Tuesday - right in the middle of Pride month.

We’d planned to share a new look to our website, change in our content strategy, and all kinds of exciting news - and we thought there was no better time for that than Pride month, when we celebrate who we are and how far our broader community has come in advocating for the rights of LGBTQ people around the world.

That all seems rather frivolous today.

Today, our community is in mourning for the senseless act of violent hatred perpetrated on our community - and things like our news, things like our new website and new posts and all that just don’t seem as important anymore.

You all know the story: Bex and I started Iris because we wanted you to have something we didn’t. We wanted to create a positive space for LGBTQ+ youth to read affirming stories and poetry and celebrate your unique stories. We wanted to give voice to your experiences, and we wanted to maybe, just maybe, find a way to help you navigate the process of coming to know yourself and your LGBTQ identity. We hoped that through fiction and poetry, we’d ease your way just a little.

We tell you that things get better. And we tell you to be strong in the face of bullies. And we publish stories that feature characters overcoming those very challenges because they’re the challenges you - or your children, your students, your patients, your congregants - face every single day. Every single day, when you walk through heavy double doors to get to your classes, you stand up to those challenges.

You stand up to bullies by being who you are. You stand up to misconceptions, and assumptions by heading to class. You stand up to hatred by being proud of yourself and proud of your community. You stand up to prejudice by being. You are our inspiration.

And then things like this happen. And I wonder what it is that we can say to you, when over fifty beautiful people are gone because of hatred and violence and evil from which we can’t protect you.

I think that all we can say is this: keep being. Keep being proud of who you are. You are beautiful, you are strong, you are talented and brilliant and so very essential to our community. You are what we fight for, because you deserve to exist in a world that celebrates you.

With love,
Team Iris