"Christopher was my only child. As I used to tell him, 'You can't do better than perfect.'"

That is how Christine Leinonen explained her relationship to her son to the teary-eyed crowd at the 2016 Democratic National Convention on July 27, 2016. Her son, Christopher, and his boyfriend, Juan Ramon Guerrero, were two of the 49 victims who were killed at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida.


Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.

"Christopher's paternal grandparents met and fell in love in a Japanese internment camp," Leinonen noted, comforted by two of her son's friends at the podium. "So it was in his DNA that love always trumps hate."

While nothing can truly heal the loss of a child, Leinonen — and many other parents in her shoes — can at least rest assured that their children's memories will never be forgotten in Orlando.

The Pulse nightclub is slated to construct a permanent memorial honoring the victims of the June 12, 2016, massacre.

The LGBTQ nightclub's owner, Barbara Poma, filed paperwork with the State of Florida on behalf of the OnePulse Foundation earlier this month to fund and construct a monument honoring Christopher and the other victims, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

The incident marked the largest mass shooting in American history.

Photo by Gerardo Mora/Getty Images.

The specifics of Pulse's future as a nightclub are still a bit unknown, seeing as the community is still reeling from unprecedented tragedy and loss. But Poma is set on two things: Pulse will return as a safe space for the LGBTQ community, and it will always honor those who lost their lives this June.

"Anything we would ever do would include a memorial," she told the Sentinel.

Tragically, what happened at Pulse is symbolic of a much larger systemic issue: violence against LGBTQ people — and, particularly, queer people of color.

While simply being LGBTQ means you're living more at-risk of discrimination, black and Latinx queer people — especially those who are transgender — are "massively overrepresented among victims of anti-LGBT violence," Fusion reported, pointing to data from the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs.

The majority of people who died at Pulse were LGBTQ people of color.


Photo by Bryan R. Smith/AFP/Getty Images.

Although we've taken monumental strides forward toward equality in recent years on issues like marriage equality and same-sex adoption, that level of progress hasn't been felt on every issue across the board.

In fact, the Southern Poverty Law Center reported in 2011 that LGBTQ people "are far more likely than any other minority group in the United States to be victimized by [a] violent hate crime."

In her heart-wrenching speech at the DNC, Leinonen encouraged us all not to feel helpless, but to fight so that no other parent needs to experience what she has.

That fight for justice, she said, certainly includes gun control.

"At the time [Christopher was born], I was a Michigan state trooper," she explained. "When I went into labor, the hospital put my off-duty gun in a safe. I didn't argue — I know common-sense gun policies save lives."

"I'm glad common-sense gun policy was in place the day Christopher was born, but where was that common sense the day he died? I never want you to ask that question about your child."

Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images.

Joy

Man uses TikTok to offer 'dinner with dad' to any kid that needs one, even adult ones

Summer Clayton is the father of 2.4 million kids and he couldn’t be more proud.

Come for the food, stay for the wholesomeness.

Summer Clayton is the father of 2.4 million kids and he couldn’t be more proud. His TikTok channel is dedicated to giving people intimate conversations they might long to have with their own father, but can’t. The most popular is his “Dinner With Dad” segment.

The concept is simple: Clayton, aka Dad, always sets down two plates of food. He always tells you what’s for dinner. He always blesses the food. He always checks in with how you’re doing.

I stress the stability here, because as someone who grew up with a less-than-stable relationship with their parents, it stood out immediately. I found myself breathing a sigh of relief at Clayton’s consistency. I also noticed the immediate emotional connection created just by being asked, “How was your day?” According to relationship coach and couples counselor Don Olund, these two elements—stability and connection—are fundamental cravings that children have of their parents. Perhaps we never really stop needing it from them.


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Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy asked his Senate colleagues the questions millions of Americans have after a mass shooting.

Another school shooting. Another mass murder of innocent children. They were elementary school kids this time. There were 18 children killed—so far—this time.

The fact that I can say "this time" is enraging, but that's the routine nature of mass shootings in the U.S. It happened in Texas this time. At least three adults were killed this time. The shooter was a teenager this time.

The details this time may be different than the last time and the time before that, and the time before that, and the time before that. But there's one thing all mass shootings have in common. No, it's not mental illness. It's not racism or misogyny or religious extremism. It's not bad parenting or violent video games or lack of religion.

Some of those things have been factors in some shootings, but the single common denominator in every mass shooting is guns. That's not a secret. It's not controversial. It's fact. The only thing all mass shootings have in common is guns.

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Joy

Meet Eva, the hero dog who risked her life saving her owner from a mountain lion

Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva when a mountain lion suddenly appeared.

Photo by Didssph on Unsplash

A sweet face and fierce loyalty: Belgian Malinois defends owner.

The Belgian Malinois is a special breed of dog. It's highly intelligent, extremely athletic and needs a ton of interaction. While these attributes make the Belgian Malinois the perfect dog for police and military work, they can be a bit of a handful as a typical pet.

As Belgian Malinois owner Erin Wilson jokingly told NPR, they’re basically "a German shepherd on steroids or crack or cocaine.”

It was her Malinois Eva’s natural drive, however, that ended up saving Wilson’s life.

According to a news release from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva slightly ahead of her when a mountain lion suddenly appeared and swiped Wilson across the left shoulder. She quickly yelled Eva’s name and the dog’s instincts kicked in immediately. Eva rushed in to defend her owner.

It wasn’t long, though, before the mountain lion won the upper hand, much to Wilson’s horror.

She told TODAY, “They fought for a couple seconds, and then I heard her start crying. That’s when the cat latched on to her skull.”

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