Welcoming Patience Murray, Our Latest Anthem Judge
The Anthem Awards is honored to welcome Author, Activist, Entrepreneur, and Pulse survivor Patience Murray to our judging body of social impact leaders.
On June 12, 2016, a mass shooting at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, took the lives of 49, most of which were Latine, Queer, and gender expansive. This week marks the seventh anniversary of the harrowing night, a tragedy that continues to carry weight in today’s fight against gun violence.
That night was a shocking wake-up call to create protections for LGBTQIA+ folks, especially in spaces dedicated to embracing their joy. Many mobilized to demand action and support from legislators and the community. And survivors shared their stories with the world to teach perseverance, resilience, and the importance of healing as a community.
Because of this, we are truly honored to welcome Author, Activist, Entrepreneur, and Pulse survivor Patience Murray to the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, the judging body of The Anthem Awards. We are thrilled to welcome her to our global community of changemakers and work with her to champion impactful advocacy.
What Happened on June 12, 2016
Murray first traveled to Orlando after her best friend, Tiara Parker, invited her to a week-long family trip to Florida after her sophomore year at New York University. To kick the vacation off right, Murray, Parker, and Parker’s cousin, Akyra Murray, went to Pulse to dance and celebrate.
What was supposed to be an exciting night out became one of the nation’s most horrific acts of violence against Latine, Hispanic, Queer, and Trans people. She lost Akyra, who was meant to be a newfound friend, that night.
While recovering from her injuries, Murray wrote a poem expressing her grief, called, “The guilt of feeling grateful to be alive is heavy.” Since then, she’s used her platform tirelessly to help others process and find strength in their pain by sharing their stories with the world.
Patience Murray’s Body of Work & Advocacy
After the fateful night, Murray led her life with purpose and made it her mission to show people that it’s possible to have and nurture a life after a tragedy.
In 2021, she founded the self-publishing consultancy and poetry-sharing platform Pages of Poetry. Starting as a global online poetry competition, it now stands as a living archive of stories about healing from writers worldwide. It’s a platform that hosts live shows for attendees to foster community as they share their poems and lived experiences.
Murray even took the lessons she learned in her own healing journey to write the book Survive Then Live. She writes to those living through adversity to persevere by making their way back to themselves and envisioning a life filled with love, joy, community, and intention.
In the honest and raw memoir, she teaches the inevitability of pain and ways to overcome long periods of it. She pulls from the depth of her experiences to illustrate that tragedy—without a doubt—can be overcome. Her words can also be heard on The Moth, a platform for storytellers to perform their work live, as she shares an emotional and captivating account of the night.
Murray also uses her platform to advocate for gun reform and push leaders to create legislative protections to actualize real change. She’s worked with leaders like former President Barack Obama to advocate for gun control and increased mental health awareness.
Murray has also used her voice to advocate for gun reform and has testified before Congress to pass the critical Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which contains policies regulating firearms and deadly weapons—even including violence prevention initiatives and mental health services.
Her advocacy work in gun control garnered a special recognition certificate from Senator Richard Blumenthal for her diligent efforts to create policies regulating and reforming the distribution of weapons. She was also honored as a 49 Legacy Scholar by the ONEPulse Foundation to support her Music Production program at Full Sail University.
How to Support Her Work, Pulse Survivors, and the Fight for LGBTQIA+ Safety
What happened at Pulse is just one of the many deadly hate crimes committed against Queer, Trans, and gender-expansive people in recent years. It’s an issue that persists today—in November 2022, a mass shooting occurred at the Queer nightclub Club Q in Colorado Springs, leaving five people dead and at least 19 injured.
According to the Department of Homeland Security, about 20% of all hate crimes reported in the United States in 2021 were driven by bias against sexual and gender identity. And with harmful anti-LGBTQIA+ policies sweeping the nation—from Florida’s ban on education about sexuality and gender to Tenessee’s ban on best-practice gender-affirming care for Trans youth—there’s never been a more pivotal time to take action.
Advocates, activists, and organizations nationwide are using their voices and resources to mobilize. Here are a couple of resources to engage with to support and join the fight to protect LGBTQIA+ folks:
An organization established by the owner of Pulse Nightclub to foster a sanctuary of hope by memorializing the lives lost that night. Check out their educational resources, scholarships, memorial and museum, and more.
An Orlando-based initiative, the mission of The Center is to promote and empower the LGBTQIA+ community through advocacy, education, and the creation of resources. Explore their programs, services, and events.
A fund created and based in Florida to honor the lives lost at Pulse by memorializing their stories and ensuring they’re not forgotten. It sources funding for organizations building on and advancing Black and LGBTQIA+ issues.
QLatinx is a grassroots justice organization advancing and empowering the Latine LGBTQIA+ community in Central Florida. Take a look at the healing spaces they’ve created and the resources they’ve developed, like the Climate & Healing Justice Initiative.
Gays Against Guns
An all-inclusive direct action cooperative of LGBTQIA+ people and allies, Gays Against Guns is committed to nonviolently fighting gun violence from within the system. Join them in protests, use their educational resource to learn more, or become a member.
Everytown For Gun Safety
Continue to educate yourself using resources and insights, like from Everytown For Gun Safety. They have a vast database of issues relating to gun violence, respective solutions, and reports on developments in this area.
ACLU’s Anti-LGBTQIA+ Policy Tracker
Keep track of the continuing fight to limit the rights and freedom of the LGBTQIA+ community using the American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLU) database, which tracks bills that pose a threat across healthcare, education, free speech, and more.
Stay current and educated on recent developments regarding LGBTQIA+ rights. Continue to learn and unlearn.