I should be sad.
Fifty human beings were gunned down because they were LGBT – “others” – in a space that is supposed to be a safe place. As a few friends of mine have observed, violence was done in a sanctuary for people whose lives don’t offer sanctuary elsewhere. The place where it is finally safe to show your partner the affection they so desperately deserve, to flirt with someone who is, for once, unlikely to violently lash out if they’re not interested, to dance off the rest of the bullshit that comes along with being marginalized. Those fifty lives represent hundreds of years of lost creativity, human connection, love, and experience that we will never be able to replace.
I should be sad.
Instead, I find myself viscerally angry, fists clenching and jaw tight. My blood is boiling.
I’m angry that the shooter-I-refuse-to-name was able to purchase the weapons he used to execute this travesty so easily, despite his background of violence. I’m angry that the purchase of these firearms will likely go forward unchecked because our congress has been purchased one by one by the NRA. I’m angry that because the shooter happened to be Muslim, the conversation about this topic will be hijacked by people whose Islamophobia will overshadow and erase the fact that this violence was done to LGBT people. I’m angry that that same Islamophobia is a different symptom of the same root cause of the shooting – fear of the ‘other.’ I’m angry that an entire religion will be blamed for one despicable man’s actions. I’m angry that within the community there is still so much sexism, transphobia, body- and slut-shaming, and racism that we have yet to deal with or learn to talk about in a productive manner – isms and phobias that are also symptoms of that fear of the ‘other.’
I’m angry that there are still 30 states in which a person can be terminated from their employment for being LGBT, and angrier still that there are three states in which state law prohibits local municipalities from passing additional protections. I’m angry that the vast majority of Republican politicians who tweeted or otherwise posted a response to the events at Pulse neglected to mention that the victims were LGBT, as though it didn’t matter. I’m angry that this year alone, nearly 200 anti-LGBT provisions have been introduced in our legislature, fueling the culture of hate that bred this situation in the first place. I’m angry that I can’t properly explain why I’m so angry.
It’s really touching to scroll through my feed on Facebook and see so many thoughts and prayers and #orlandostrong hashtags. That said, I don’t want your thoughts or prayers. Or rather, I do – but I would rather have them take the form of a letter to your congressional representatives demanding tougher gun control and equal treatment under the law for LGBT persons, or a brave conversation with a coworker who says something ignorant in the aftermath, or a pint of blood, or a hug given to someone who’s hurting and needs it right now.
Keep your prayers. Get ANGRY. We have so much work to do. Marriage equality was an incredible victory, but it means nothing if in the aftermath of such tragedy, so many people can still take to Twitter to remind us that “at least it was just gays this time and not innocent people” – dehumanizing and shaming us simply for being. We are human – every bit as much as anyone else – and we will not be slaughtered without fighting back. We will stand together. We will love harder. And hell no, we will not give up.
“This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before.” – Leonard Bernstein, 1963