This morning I woke up to news that there had been a mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando. I read that even without knowing anything about the shooter, paparazzi asked if he had ties to Islamic terrorist groups. There were news reports that politicians refused to acknowledge that this was a hate crime against LGBT people. I am blown away by both of these. I can’t fathom how someone can deny the blatant attack on queer people. The shooting occurred at a gay club, during Pride month, when Pulse was hosting a gay event! You don’t get much more obvious than that! It turned out that the shooter does have ties to Islamic terrorist groups, but it made me really sad that that was the first place people’s minds went before they even knew anything about him. (Shouldn’t the first question have been “does he have any ties to anti-gay groups?”)
In all honesty, I’m just sad about the whole thing in particular. Same sex marriage may be legal in all 50 states now, but that’s not even half the battle when it comes to rights and social norms for queer people. Most of us worry we’ll get sneers (at the very least) every day just by showing who we are. I have gay friends who avoid kissing each other in public for fear of having people do worse than sneer. When there is a blatant attack on queer people the battle has not been won. The fight is not over. I really wish that were the case…but it’s not.
I’ve been bullied most of my life for one thing or another. I had a huge overbite when I was a kid. I was awkward, shy, and didn’t talk much. In my mid teens I got way into Paganism. I was chubby. There were plenty of things that people could tease me about. Despite all that, I have never actually feared for my safety until now. Until this one act of hate (and, yes, this was a hate crime. I refuse to call it anything else) rocked the US in what has been called the worst mass shooting in US history. That is astounding.
As much as I have concerns about my safety, I will not let this make me go back in the closet. I lived most of my life in closets. It took me years to come out of the Pagan closet, and while I was an out queer woman to all of my friends I only recently came out to my family. (I’ll make a proper post about that sometime as it deserves to be talked about.) I lived in closets out of necessity. I refuse to do so anymore. Especially when I know right now there are other queer people fearing for their safety. There is strength in numbers, and knowing that there are other queer people out there makes the world a little less scary, a little less lonely. We need to see right now that we aren’t alone.
NYC Pride is in a few weeks and I’ve been really looking forward to going. I’m still going to go, but I can’t deny that the Orlando shootings have made me give it a second thought. If they could target a nightclub, what would make me think they couldn’t target the Pride parade? But Pride is the one time of year that I can just go and be free to show who I amwithout worrying about repercussions. It’s the one time of year that I get to be surrounded by LGBT brothers and sisters where we are all celebrating love and who we are. I need that. All of my friends are totally fine with my being queer (in fact, most of my friends are queer in one way or another), but it’s not quite the same as being at a Pride event where everyone is decked out in rainbows. The energy alone is astounding. Last year’s Pride event was right after gay marriage was legalized. This year’s is right after a mass shooting. I can’t not go this year, just like I couldn’t not go last year.
Terrorists, you may have taken a few brothers and sisters. But you will not wipe us out. You will not silence us. We are here. We deserve to be here. We deserve love and happiness just as much as anyone else. You can try to eradicate us, but you will not win. No matter what you do, we will keep on being who we are and loving who we love.
If you are interested in reading FREE lesbian short stories, check out my list of the ones I’ve posted here, and stay tuned as a few more FREE lesbian stories are coming out this month. Happy Pride Month!