Orlando

[Originally posted on Facebook]

I’m still struggling to find words for Orlando. More than fifty of my queer and trans brothers and sisters were killed or wounded last night. They were roughly my age. They were just out for some fun on a Saturday night. They were in a place that was supposed to be safe.

I don’t even know their names yet, and they’re gone forever. Just like that. Because one idiot hated gay people and tried to solve his problems by murdering strangers.

This feels like an attack on all of us—on all of our safe spaces. I keep thinking of all the queer and trans folk I know who could’ve been out in Orlando last night—or Seattle, or Tacoma, or Minneapolis, or wherever. I keep seeing the faces of more than fifty LGBT folks I know in my head, and I think, “It could have been them.”

It could have been anywhere. It could have been any one of us.

I feel sadness for the victims and their loved ones—for their found families as much if not more so than their blood relations (some of them could have been kicked out of their biological families’ homes for all we know).

I feel sadness, pity, and disgust for the shooter.

I feel sadness and sympathy for those living with mental illness who will once again have to deal with suspicion following a mass shooting.

I feel sadness and empathy for Muslims who will once again have to justify their religion to bigots.

I feel overwhelming love and sadness and kinship with my fellow gay men, lesbians, bisexual folk, and trans folk, especially the latter two, ’cause I know y’all tend to get lost in the clamor during moments like this.

I feel sadness and anger that some of the gay and bisexual men in Orlando couldn’t even give blood to help their friends today, because the Red Cross still has that damned ban one-year ban on men who’ve had sex with another man (and, no, I don’t feel better that at least it’s down to one year from the former lifetime ban).

I feel sad, shocked, and scared that that tiny voice at the back of my mind—the one that hears Brandi Carlile’s cover of the Avett Brothers’s “Murdered in the City” and thinks, “yeah, that’s a real possibility that we all have to live with”—was right.

And at the same time, I’m angry at how the forces of darkness will use this attack as justification for their own hatred.

Some will hear that it was a gay nightclub and think, “It serves them right: the wage of sin is death.”

Some will ignore the fact that the victims were targeted because they were gay, thus erasing the victims’ lives AND their deaths for the sake of an agenda.

Some will use this to drive a wedge between LGBT folk and Muslims, ignoring that both Muslims—and especially LGBT Muslims—have been victims of terrorism too.

A certain horrible, loathsome person running for president has already used this to congratulate himself and stir up his base.

I’m also angry at how, after more shootings than I can even count, we still cannot come to a compromise on gun control: one that will protect hunters’ rights while ensuring the safety of all citizens.

I’m disgusted and angry at the continued partisanship in America that values winning, profits,and being right over the very real lives of individuals.

I’m angry and sad that acts of violence like this happen every day—in America sometimes, in Europe others, in the Middle East, in Africa, and all over the world.

I’m angry and I’m sad and I feel helpless and I am so, so far away from all my queer friends. I’m in as safe a place as any, and I’m going to a vigil at the U of MT tonight, so I’ll be around *a* community, but it’s not *my* community.

None of my loved ones were killed or hurt. I’ve never been denied a house or a job for being who I am. I’m surrounded by people who love and support me. I’ve only experienced a small handful of harassment and scary moments, most of which I could straight up ignore or brush off with a glare and an over-the-shoulder “fuck off.” I honestly don’t feel all that persecuted or oppressed most days. I should be grateful for what I have. And yet. Here we are.

No, I’m not okay. I’m safe (as much as anyone else), I’m with a support network, and I’m physically fine. But of course I’m not okay. None of us are. What an absurd question!

This whole thing is terrible. It will not stop being terrible. And there’s nothing I can do.

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