In Orlando, Florida, a gunman, after seeing two men kissing two days prior, decided to target a gay bar during Latino night with a trans headliner. There were a lot of cisgender LGB folks as well as trans LGB folks in the bar that night. He killed 50 of them and injured 53 others. This is the largest mass shootings in America, the largest death toll in a single few hours since 9/11, and it was targeting LGBTQIA people. This happened in the early morning hours of June 12th, 2016. You can read the play by play of what happened in this link from Slate.
I don’t know how to feel right now. A friend of mine lost a friend that night, and all I can do is say, “If you need me or anything at all, let me know.” What more can be said? I want to cry, rage, and hide all at the same time.
I attended a vigil Sunday evening at my capitol building. A good hundred or so people showed up, and we wept together. Talked about how the gun violence has got to stop. Talked about how we need to support one another, to stand firm on the side of love, to not let hatred win. Because what happened early Sunday morning on June 12th, 2016 was a hate crime. A hate crime against LGBTQIA people (specifically people of color as most were Latinos).
The current rise of anti-LGBTQIA rhetoric and legislation in this country most definitely played a role. This wasn’t the only attack this weekend. This weekend was Pride weekend, where Pride festivals across America happens in various cities. Pride exists to honor the memory of Stonewall, where LGBTQIA people, specifically trans folks of color, first fought back and demanded equal rights. The festivals exist to affirm our existence, to affirm that we do matter and that we can eventually overcome the hatred spewed against us. We will continue the fight for equal rights — the rights straight, cisgender people already have. We will continue to proudly proclaim that love will win out. That’s what Pride is all about, but this weekend hatred was spewed forth upon our communities.
In Los Angeles, there was a confirmed report of a gunman who planned to attack the Pride event that day — he had a car full of weapons and explosives, and if he had not stopped to wait for a friend, there might have been a second mass shooting Sunday. That horror was just barely prevented. There has been other attacks on people at Pride events in other cities, some anecdotal and some reported to police. I can’t say this enough: the anti-trans and anti-LGBTQIA rhetoric and legislation in the majority of states most definitely has an effect and it’s a damaging one; these attacks stem from that rise.
I write this in tears because I fear for my life and the life of my loved ones and friends. What happened in Orlando? It could have happened anywhere in the US, and with the rise of hatred toward folks like me, is there anywhere that is safe?
I don’t have the energy or patience to deal with folks who don’t like the existence of LGBTQIA people or view our lives as morally wrong. I’ve seen enough people celebrating the deaths of people like me, enough people quoting Bible verses as they tell me that folks like me deserve to die, that we are sinful abominations. I’m tired of it, and yet I can’t escape it because it saturates America’s discourse, where even the act of me taking a piss in a bathroom causes the hateful folks to rise up in condemnation of my existence.
I post this in hopes of solidarity and to remind everyone that we, LGBTQIA folks of all races and professions — we do exist, and we matter just as much as cisgender straight people. We don’t deserve deaths like this.
And so, we must remember those who have died. We must not let their deaths be used to fuel more hatred: http://fusion.net/st…pulse-massacre/
Anderson Cooper reads their names and their stories. (A heart-wrenching video).
Remember them. Don’t let the politicians or the murderer’s 911 call shape the discourse. This has nothing to do with radical Islam. The murderer wasn’t even a practicing Muslim. He was born in America, raised in our American culture, and came to hate folks like me. There are more people out there like him who try hard to cause harm through legislation, through conversion therapies, through denial of basic services, through denying us jobs and/or housing, through firing us for coming out. The hatred of LGBTQIA people is prevalent in America, and don’t let the politicians with their hateful rhetoric demonize innocent Muslim folks and refugees. Don’t let this act of hatred be used to fuel more hatred.
Love has to win out. It’s got to. Because right now, when I think about all we’ve lost in my community — the folks in Orlando, the dozens of trans folks murdered this year, people we lost to suicide because they felt life was too dangerous and painful to live, the folks who have been hurt, assaulted, beaten, harassed, discriminated against — all of us, I start to lose hope. I start to wonder if there is any good in this world. I start to wonder if maybe life is too dangerous, that maybe it would be better if I left this world. Then I think of some of my favorite movies: The Lord of the Rings, and I think of what Sam said to Frodo when Frodo lost all hope:
FRODO: I can’t do this, Sam.
SAM: I know. It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy. How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened. But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something. Even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back only they didn’t. Because they were holding on to something.
FRODO: What are we holding on to, Sam?
SAM: That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it’s worth fighting for.
There is some good in this world, and it’s worth fighting for. Love will win out, but we got to work together. Support one another. Listen to one another, and stand up for one another. Fight this fight together.
Remember to take care of yourself in this time of grief. Hug your loved ones. Tell your friends, especially your LGBTQIA friends and family, that you love them and support them. Stand firm on the side of love and stand up against the hateful rhetoric and legislation that is harming LGBTQIA folks like me. Remember that you are loved. That you do matter. Love must win out.