I sat at my computer pouring over the news and not believing my eyes. I had, like most people my age, been out on Saturday night and then had brunch on Sunday morning not thinking about anything outside of my world. I’m a fairly dialed in individual but there was no Facebook notification, no Snapchat news story, no tweet that made me aware that outside of my bubble was a tragedy. As much as social media has contributed there isn’t yet a way to alert people that in someplace, somewhere else within our world, heartbreak is happening.
50 people. My head couldn’t grasp it. A “gay nightclub”, “young people”, an act of “terrorism”, “homophobia”, I could visually see the words but it was as if, out of respect to my mentality stability, my mind wouldn’t let any of it permeate. I couldn’t reflect on the fact that just last year I worked 8 Gay Prides across the state of Colorado, I couldn’t think about the fact that in my lifetime I had attended Prides in 25 different states, I wasn’t able to connect with the fact that my Facebook timeline was streaming with words of horror and disbelief because many of my friends are LGBTQ. I just wasn’t able to process any of it.
That was the thing; while the outpouring of support and sympathy kept mentioning that this was a tragedy for the “LGBT community”, I felt that this was a tragedy for everyone as a whole.
Not every person killed in the Orlando club that night was gay. I grew up in the LGBT community, with an out and proud Lesbian mom, and just because I’m a straight women doesn’t diminish how this personally affected me too. It isn’t any less painful for those who have LGBT parents, or sisters & brothers, or children, or teachers, or co-workers, or friends who identify as such. For anyone who knows and loves someone who is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, or Queer this is their community too, it is all of ours.
This wasn’t an attack simply on homosexual love, this was an attack on all love.
The morning after I started reading the updated articles, seeing the faces of those slain during the massacre and my heart began to hurt. I, like many, read about the mother who’s son had texted her some of his last words and I began to cry. I cried for his mother, I cried for him, I cried for the people in that bathroom with him, and I cried because it was unfair that hate that powerful could ruin so many lives. I didn’t care what someone had poetically said at the Tony awards, I didn’t care about the national conversation regarding moments of silence versus action, or radical extremism versus homophobia, I only cared about him, this young man who knew he was going to die and had to tell his mother that.
Our reaction as a society is to jump into cause and effect mode. We are all shocked, we are all angry, and saddened, and heartbroken and I wonder why that cannot be enough. Why can’t we all just allow ourselves to feel those things without creating more things to be upset and divided over? Why are we pouring salt in our wounds and calling it antiseptic? Why can’t we just mourn the death of 50 people and the rising reality that there are too many people and things in this world willing to die because they believe that their beliefs are the right ones.
Isn’t there space to just reflect on how every step towards justice brings about moments where injustice happens more and more frequently. We have to live with ourselves, we have to explain this to our children, we have to call our parents and tell them we love them because that could have been any of us gunned down and we should allow at least 24 hours to do that.
… It could have been any of us, that’s what stuck for me.
I had joked on a date a few nights before about how much more I enjoyed Gay clubs to straight ones because I got to “dance, feel fabulous, and feel safe.” That morning on my way to brunch I was mentally reminding myself to text my girlfriends about going out to San Francisco in 2 weeks for Pride weekend.
There would be dancing, there would be fabulousness, there would be the amazing feeling of having a whole city moving to the pulse of living life as whoever you wanted and loving whomever you wanted. Now, after this, each Pride and every LGBT nightclub will be a little less bright, a little less happy, a little more defensive in how they chose to live their lives. If that’s not the sad moral to this story, I don’t know what is.