To all my queer friends, do not be diluted by all the straight people claiming what happened in Orlando is a “senseless” act of violence. We, as queer people, know better. This was not a senseless act. Considering the world LGBTQ people are forced to exist in, it actually makes complete sense, and we know this. This is not just about access to guns, homophobia and mental illness. People will try to make you believe this can only be about one thing, but we will never fully understand anything unless we open our minds to hate being about more than just access to a gun. Most importantly, and this is something you will not hear from your straight friends, and something you will never hear on the news: this is about self hate.
Additionally, straight people, talking heads, will try to turn us against each other. They will try to blame this on religion (which is partially involved, in some way), but the enemy here is not each other. You will hear and see straight people politicizing this and trying to turn us into some sort of cause. But do not forget your humanity in this. Do not forget to see yourself.
What no straight person will tell you, and what they will never fully see, is that you don’t go into a bar and kill fifty people simply because you don’t like them; you do it because part of you is them, and that part of you doesn’t only hate them, that part of you hates yourself. What no straight person will tell you, and what you will never see on the news in regard to hate crimes involving sexuality, is that the answer to this does not lie within blame. The answer here is not about a gun. The answer here is dealing with repression of self.
Disagree with me all you want, but no person kills 50 queers if that person himself is not completely freaked out and frightened of his own sexuality, and this is something you will never hear on the news. The reality is this: this will continue to happen, because we, as a society, refuse to ever look inward. We, as LGBTQ people all know this first hand, because we have all had that fork in the road where we decided to love ourselves, rather than go in the opposite direction. Every one of us has had the capacity at one point or another to choose violence, and we went the other way, because we went in the direction of choosing to love ourselves.
The same reason we continue to push each other away is the same reason we kill each other in night clubs. One is just a seed, while the other is an entire fucking forest. To blame this on mental illness is taking the easy way out. To blame this all on religion is missing half the battle. To blame this all on gun laws is a step in the right direction, but it’s not solving the hate we create within ourselves. It is only solving a symptom of that hate.
When a man walks into a building and decides to kill fifty people of the LGBTQ community, it is easy to be blinded by this man’s hate and violence, but that is too easy. The way we rise above this is by doing something I have been telling myself my entire life: respond to hate by continuing to love. Continue being the very thing that is being hated or rejected. Take comfort in your sexuality. Relax in your intensity. It’s not easy. When there is literally a mass shooting specifically aimed at who you are, I understand the need to contract. But from the time I was fourteen being severely bullied in high school for being gay, to today, where my people are actually being killed, I’ll continue expanding, and I encourage all of you to do the same.
When faced with any type of adversity, my advice to everyone is to continue being more you. Being yourself, as a queer person, is in itself a form of protest, an act of rebellion. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. I tell people this because it’s all I really know, and it’s what I have done my entire life. I have never been big on activism, or protesting, or any type of social justice that involves being seen in large groups. Not because it doesn’t work (it often does), but because I believe greatly that none of that means anything if you can’t practice it in your every day life, with the people you know and the people you meet. It creates something a bit stronger and becomes more real.
Something like this could easily make me scared of all the hate in the world, but that’s too easy. Instead, this reinforces more than ever, that we need to continue believing there is good. The good does outweigh the bad, and it’s not something we should forget.
We’re still working on it, though. And in the end, we, as the LGBTQ community will continue looking inward, because that’s what we do. We’ll continue opening ourselves up, because that’s the choice we have made. We will continue expanding in the face of violence and adversity because that is all we’ve ever known. We don’t have the luxury to live any other way.