Sitting on two chairs, with a table between us, my friend and I stared blankly at each other for awhile. Zoned out, tired and emotionally exhausted. Words didn’t come easily, but, eventually they came as everyday problems and, boy troubles, and general life was discussed. What else could we do but talk about life?
My friend and I embraced and just … held each other without speaking. Feeling the closeness of protection and warmth of our hug because … well, that’s what you do when everything that you held dear felt like it was ripped away.
I awoke Sunday morning to the tragic news that a deranged man with unconscionable anger issues and possible sexual identity confusion walked into a gay nightclub called Pulse in Orlando, Florida and shot 103 people. 49 of which died. I immediately felt like someone punched me in the gut. I don’t live in Florida, never have, but I felt like I did and it hurt like I lost members of my family. “Oh god … those poor, people” I uttered involuntarily as I tried to regain my breath.
The gay community really is a community. We represent somewhere along the lines of 4% of the population, and we are small enough to be, by some measure, a village within a vast metropolis. While we don’t all know each other, and really have different personalities and tastes we are virtually a family. When that madman (whom I won’t name because his memory doesn’t deserve mention) decided to ruthlessly end the lives of so many of my family it HURT and it hurt badly.
Everyone needs a safe place. We all crave that location where you can be yourself and not think about the pretenses of life. We want to be around people who know exactly what it is you are going through. That’s what a gay club is for some. Even more though, Gay Pride is the EMBODIMENT of safe (in recent years) for American Gays (although in places like Russia no such safe haven exists). In a fundamental way, our safe place was violated in the worst way possible in the early hours of Sunday, June 12th. Our wonderful, warm, loving, caring, exciting, amazing safe place was …. taken from us.
I had spent much of the morning of June 12th crying. Just sobbing. An uncontrollable, deep, agonizing sorrow that I haven’t felt in a very long time. I curled up in my bed and convulsed. Very real … so real. TOO real. The people who had their lives ended deserved the dignity of an amazing life filled with accomplishments, smiles, love and the warmth I felt hugging my friend on that sad morning.
Also, I had another thought that came over me as I thought about the tragedy. This could have been in Denver. The victims could have included myself and many of my closest personal friends whom I danced with and had unending fun with during any pride weekend.
I’m left to wonder where to go from here. On Sunday night my friend and I went to a very large candlelight vigil organized by a straight ally friend of mine who happens to run the biggest gay nightclub in Denver. As we all sang Lean on Me I felt that sense of community begin to restore itself and thoughts of renewal came into my mind.
We are strongest when we are together and in our strength we can be unbowed and undefeated. While there are those who pervert religion and bend it to their own bigoted views, we must understand that we as a community are so much more than that. We are JOY. We are rapture! We are love! We … WE are doubtless amazing and so wonderful as WE are.
Let’s point our minds toward how, collectively, we can drive forward. Be active and let people know that you aren’t scared and that, despite the best efforts of an insane individual you aren’t going to back down. Be resolved that you will keep those that died in your thoughts as you continue the fight that we all began in earnest that hot June night in 1969 when the modern Gay right’s movement began.
Most of all be safe, be happy, and don’t let ANYONE make you afraid. I’ve got your back and I will do everything in my power to help spur you on. We all NEED each other right now, and it’s through our collective strength that we achieve.
I’m done crying. Let us lift up the families of the fallen and become even more amazing than we already were. Let’s show the bastards that we cannot be defeated.