I’m not sure what to say that hasn’t already been said. I woke up on Sunday morning to yet another mass shooting. I thought I had become emotionally numb by now, despite the fact that every time a mass shooting happens I still tend to obsessively consume social media as though remaining aware will somehow keep me and the people I love safe from random violence.
The impact of what happened at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, the impact of what was done by a homophobic man with an automatic weapon, landed on me like a slow-motion ton of bricks, like a series of blows battering down a door. I felt completely raw, shaking, completely unable to stop reading Twitter. I read for the information, but more than that I read for the collective processing that the queer community was spelling out in tweet form. It made me feel less alone, especially because I was too afraid to try to venture out to the gathering at Stonewall by myself.
It’s not that I think I am at a great deal of risk (although it hurts more than I can express to know that my parents think all queer people are going to hell, i.e., that in god’s eyes we all deserve to die and be tormented forever). I am, after all, living in a fairly open-minded city, and I am not immediately read as queer since I’m dating a straight cis man (yay bisexual erasure). But I feel fiercely protective of all my friends and all the other LGBT+ people in the world. I want to turn myself into a wall which no one can breach, keeping out all the homophobes, allowing every beautiful queer person to thrive. I want us all to be able to live and celebrate and be; it’s not just about who you love, it’s about who you are. It’s about how being outside the norms of gender and sexuality present the biggest target possible to toxic masculinity and the patriarchy that requires it. It’s about figuring out how we all get free.
I’m exhausted by straight cis peoples’ responses, for the most part. Especially the ones who erase that this was an attack on queer people, in order to try to say “we are all Orlando.” No we’re fucking not. Given that the people at Pulse that night were mostly people of color, even I am only really on the edge of this tragedy. And I’m especially especially exhausted by the people trying to make this about Islam, when we’ve spent the past year and a half watching candidates for the highest office in our country stand up on debate stages and in front of cameras and use Christianity as a reason to say vile things about gay and trans people. When we’ve seen anti-gay and anti-trans bills by the dozen, many in backlash to the legalization of same-sex marriage, and many proposed in the name of protecting Christian religious freedom. When Ted Cruz, runner-up for the Republican nomination, shared a stage with and got an endorsement from a pastor who repeatedly called for the government to imprison and execute gay people. I don’t give a fuck if the man who committed the shooting at Pulse was a Muslim (and his family claims he wasn’t particularly devout anyway) when right wing Christians have been attacking the lives and livelihoods of LGBT+ people for decades. This wasn’t about someone else’s religion being somehow worse than yours, this was about homophobia, which your guys promote constantly. So shut the fuck up about how your condescending wish that Jesus would save us from being who we are is so wonderful and so great and so much better than what this one messed-up angry man decided to do. Don’t turn our fucking lives into fodder for your “whose religion is better/whose culture is better/who’s going to survive when we’ve bombed everything to shit” dick measuring contest.
I don’t want to hide, or make myself small, or pass. I want to hold my queer friends, my siblings, close; I want us to continue to show each other the love and acceptance many of our families will never give us. I want to dance together, shout together, be happy and free together. I’ve seen so many of my friends and acquaintances come out over the past few years, that I can say with total certainty: no matter what, we are not going anywhere.