This morning, I woke up and stretched as I usually do, but something felt different.
No, it was still the same grey sky that I’ve come to know and love in a city I know and love. My room was the same, somewhat messy and in need of a dusting. My kitchen looked the same, with the glass from my previous evening’s drink still sitting in the sink. The light in the bedroom still didn’t work every single time (thank goodness the landlord is fixing that!).
I woke with a profound sense of sadness. A sense of loss for 50 of my brothers and sisters in the community, who simply assembled to share their joy. Maybe to meet the person that was destined to be the one for them. To make new friends, to celebrate the ones they currently had, to simply be. To dance without fear of judgment of who they were dancing with, or who they were kissing.
They were in their sanctuary.
For so many in the LGBT community who feel rejected by the standard church’s teachings, the gay bar is/was our home. Our place of communal worship, albeit of a liquid god. I say that in jest. But seriously, it was a place for community, a place where one could go without feeling as though they were different. Because everyone there was just as different and unique as them — making us all for those two-to-three hours somewhat “normal.”
I woke up feeling unrest. I have been lucky in my life as a gay man. I came out, and felt immediate love and support from my family. From loving and being accepting of my boyfriends to recognizing that I am me, my family has been a stalwart supporter of mine, through words and actions. I never felt the need to go to the gay bars to simply hang out to be around my kind. I’ve always identified as a man who happens to be gay.
Today, I am a gay man, and the attacks in Orlando are having a profound attack on me. Maybe I’ve lived in a completely isolated world where the hate and fear of myself for simply being who I am has tarnished my worldview.
You hear about things like this happening in rural Wyoming, where a young man is lured out to a roadside and beaten to death. You hear about this happening in the deep south, where the world view is not as evolved as one would like. Heck, their city view is not as evolved as one would like. You hear about this in North Carolina, where people are afraid to pee next to someone who may have been born different, but went on their own journey to figure out and accept who they are.
You don’t hear about this in cities like Orlando. LA. Seattle.
These are large metropolitan cities known for their acceptance of our community. Hell, our mayor, a gay man himself, painted several crosswalks in what could be called the gayberhood as a rainbow and the city rejoiced. Two major airlines competed for the right to sponsor our never-ending pride parade (seriously, that thing is way too long but you do you, boo).
A Facebook friend summed it up best with, “They just wanted to dance.”
And that makes me filled with uncontrollable anger and sadness. They simply wanted to dance.
Can you imagine any of the people who had made a choice to get ready, take a shower, pick out their cutest outfit, do their hair, looking forward to an evening of fun and frivolity, dancing to the latest music and simply getting the chance to express themselves with abandoned pretenses on the dance floor, sometimes finding the two and four, but having a good time and being around their contemporaries and peers — to suddenly have a madman come in and target this group of people with a semi-automatic rifle? To go into the bathroom where people were hiding and shoot them down in cold-blooded murder? To have people frantically sending text messages to their loved ones, letting them know he was there with them, waiting, to call the police now. Saying their goodbyes, saying how much they loved their moms.
Can you imagine being on the other end of such a message, reading in real time the horror? That your child had a very small possibility of making it out alive, and then, silence. Nothing from their phone, no idea of whether they had made it, were injured, were in the hospital, but knowing in the back of your mind, that the last thing you had heard from them was them begging and pleading for help.
I want to blame things. I want to blame people. I want to blame the world for this. I want someone to feel the brunt of my rage because I.AM.ANGRY.
I’m so angry that I don’t know that I can keep my emotions in check. I’m sitting here at my desk, fighting back tears as I continually try to make sense of it, to figure out any silver lining in this massacre. Or any massacre for that matter.
Newtown, Denver, Charleston.
I’m tired of it. I’m tired and angry, and I want to do something.
What can I do? Devote my life to ending gun violence? That’s something I seriously am pondering. Something where I can make a difference.
I’m not for taking people’s rights to have guns. I understand it’s a constitutional right, one so ridiculously divisive. I’m not one to take away anyone’s rights. But I want the rights to extend just beyond the .300 gorilla in the room. It’s not ONLY about guns and whether or not you should own them.
Someone said, “Let’s arm ’em all.” What a fucking miserable and horrible idea. No. Let’s not arm them all. Let’s not arm any of them, frankly. Guns have one purpose: to kill. Not to be centerpieces on your table, not to be decorations on your wall. Their entire purpose is to main, destroy, or kill.
I don’t want to live in a world where I have to worry about whether or not if I cut someone off in line, whether on accident or not, that I’m going to be shot because they had a bad day and are carrying a semi-automatic assault rifle.
I don’t want to live in a world where I wake up and hear that innocent school children are murdered, their lives cut short because someone was mentally unstable and unable to get the help they need.
I don’t want to live in a world where if you’re gay and you go out dancing, you have to fear that someone is going to come in and murder you in cold-blood. Shooting fish in a barrel.
I don’t want to live in a world where if you go to church to worship, you have to be careful when closing your eyes that someone may open fire on you for worshiping your god, for trying to find peace and salvation in what is a very frightening world.
And yet, here we are.
I’m frustrated that people still cling to beliefs which promote hate and fear.
I’m saddened that innocents have to die because of madmen and women.
I’m angry because I deserve the same rights as anyone else, and I shouldn’t have to worry about my safety if I’m out dancing or drinking with friends.
I’m horrified that people believe and preach that their way is right, and yet they murder innocents. How warped is their thinking that this has ever become an option?
I’m disgusted with our Congress who has refused to react. Who turned their noses up when innocent children were murdered and accepted that as the new normal for our country.
I’m tired of having to watch our President — a man who has faced insurmountable racism and hostility while holding the highest office in the land — come out and give yet another press conference, to find a new way to say to the people who are supposed to help support us that this has to stop.
I’m horrified that a presidential candidate has the gall to take congratulations over the shooting in Orlando.
I’m mortified that people support said presidential candidate.
Mostly, my heart is heavy for the families of those people who were affected so tremendously by the actions of a madman. Lives that are irrevocably changed forever. Fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, children who have to bury people now and say goodbyes that shouldn’t have had to have been said. Husbands and wives who only less than a year ago were celebrating their joy and dedicating their lives to another who now have to say goodbye.
We chase the melodies that seem to find us until they’re finished songs and start to play when senseless acts of tragedy remind us that nothing here is promised, not one day. This show is proof that history remembers. We live through times when hate and fear seem stronger. We rise and fall, and light from dying embers, remembrances that hope and love last longer and love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love cannot be killed or swept aside. As sacred as a symphony Eliza tells her story. Now fill the world with music, love and pride. – Lin-Manuel Miranda
In a naive sort of world view, I’d like to believe that this will finally spur some action on gun control. We will finally have a conversation around what we are doing to ourselves as a country and to our fellow people. That we cannot — will not — accept hate any more. Demagoguery should be the exception, never the norm.
And that we should be free to be who we are, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, or anything else that makes us unique and individual.
Love is love is love.
To all my brothers and sisters out there, I stand for you because you cannot.