Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Our hearts are with Orlando.

I've been thinking about and processing the news of the Orlando shooting for the last few days - the largest U.S. mass shooting since the battle of Wounded Knee in 1890, but the sixth this week. And I think it's important for all of us to ponder and talk about a few things: 
1. This attack targeted the LGBT+ community. This wasn't just an ISIS attack on America, and framing it as such erases not only the lives of the Orlando victims, but the thousands of lives of queer people - particularly queer people of color - throughout history. This was an attack on a queer sanctuary, something nightclubs have been since pre-Stonewall. And leaving that out of tweets and speeches makes it disappear. I'm not having it. The shooter was a U.S. born American citizen who loved the police force, was obsessed with firearms and hated gay people. It doesn't get more American than that. And the sad part is, for the queer community 
2. This isn't new. We have been murdered, raped, burned at the stake, beat with baseball bats, fists and feet. We have been denied housing, denied safety, routinely victimized and criminalized. So this, this is the result of years of societal violence, of acceptable homophobia, of legalized transphobia. We aren't surprised. But you might be, to find out 
3. It's your fault. And mine. And all of ours. Every time you hear a homophobic comment and can safely refute it but refuse to do so, you are responsible. Every time you see an LGBT person being harassed but convince yourself it's none of your business, you are responsible. EVERY TIME you hold up or vote for or silently agree with a person like Mike Huckabee or Donald Trump, who oozes hatred from his very pores, or one of the hundreds on U.S. senators who have introduced more than 100 anti-LGBT bills in the last year, YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE. Which brings me to a little reminder, 
4. That your thoughts and prayers are worthless. They do absolutely nothing for a community that has been repeatedly marginalized. Posting a rainbow flag and a hashtag on Facebook are MEANINGLESS. Don't pray for us. Be active. Protest. Get involved. Volunteer. DO SOMETHING, because hypocritical thoughts and prayers do nothing for me. At the moment, one of the best things you can do is donate blood. No, no. No excuses. Just do it. It really is the least you can do. Keep in mind that non-celibate gay men are still discriminated against and cannot donate to help their brothers and sisters. And another thing, 
5. People keep saying ‪#‎stayproud‬. But if this hasn't demonstrated that pride is the last thing on many of our minds, I don't know what will. I will be proud and vocal and loud and obnoxious because so many of us can't. So many, including those that will be outed against their will and without their consent because of this tragedy. I've noticed time and again that allies love Pride, but don't appreciate or even know about the work that went into allowing such an event to happen. So to my LGBT+ family, I want you to be able to #stayproud. But more importantly, I want you to ‪#‎staysafe‬.

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