Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Pulse Orlando: A Reaction

I’ve had three days to mourn and to search my soul as to why this attack on people I don’t know in a place I’ve never been has felt so incredibly personal. I’ve come to the conclusion that there are several factors involved. 
One: That Pulse was supposed to be a safe place in a world where not many exist for my people. Two: That my brothers and sisters were hunted like animals in that safe place. Three: That people are trying to straight-wash this until it isn’t what it is: a horrific attack against the LGBTQIA tribe. Four: That none of you who aren’t one of the letters knows or understands or cares. Five: That you can take your concealed carry “I’ll protect you from dying like a sniveling coward” bullshit and shove it up your ass. Then pull the fucking trigger. No, seriously. Delete your account.

So let’s explore these in depth, shall we? Because you don’t know

You can’t understand. Unless you are LGBTQIA, you will never understand what it’s like to always look over your shoulder, waiting for Bobby Bigot (and there’s always a Bobby Bigot or two) to start something. You cannot understand what it’s like to constantly be hyperaware of your surroundings, to never be seated with your back to the door. You don’t know what it is to surreptitiously listen for that angry voice in every environment. You can’t know what it feels like to go grocery shopping with your boyfriend or girlfriend and consciously keep a “respectable” (read: straight) amount of space between you, even when all you’re doing is checking for an ingredient one of you is allergic to, or snickering over the ridiculous tabloid headlines. You’ll never understand what it’s like to be surrounded by people like you, with the same enemies, and to shed those hundreds of pounds of fear and stress because you’re—finally, finally—safe in a crowd that would never hurt you.

You can’t know.
Because you never once leave the house thinking you might be in danger. It never occurs to you that if Bobby Bigot spots you, chances are high he’ll try to kill you. First he’ll drop one of the many hate-filled words that will tell you a beatdown is coming your way. Then you better hope to hell he’s only armed with fists. Once, at work, I faced down a knife wielded by a very pissed off, very large man yelling anti-fag obscenities at me. It scared me but it pissed me off, too. Who was he to judge my worth as a human being simply for doing my job? I’ll be forever grateful that the other time I didn’t know about the gun until afterwards. 

The troubled soul who committed this atrocity in Orlando intentionally, and with malice aforethought, stalked LGBT brothers, sisters, mothers, daughters, fathers, sons, cousins, lovers, best friends, human beings, to murder them with sadistic glee for no other reasons than who they were, and who they loved. There is some (as yet anecdotal) evidence that he’d patronized the place on many previous occasions. He did not unleash his fury at Hooters or Joe’s Crab Shack or Twin Peaks. No. With great deliberation, he targeted my tribe. And that is why it feels so personal to me. There are so very few places in the world where LGBT people can forget all their cares and revel in likeness and safety. And right now there is one less.

But you can’t know.

And more to the point, you don’t want to know. You wear your straight, WASP privilege like it’s a badge of courage—or worse, something you’ve earned, going about your business because you’re at the top of the food chain. You vacillate between your socially superior Liberal smugness and your Second Amendment blindness. (All people are created equal—except the brown people who possess or might possess or might have once looked upon a weapon. Then they’re The Different—the target. Good guys with guns are the only way to stop bad guys with guns, no matter how many sane, experienced voices tell you that is complete and utter bullshit.) And you’re shocked—shocked!—when a tragedy like the Pulse massacre occurs. But secretly, you take your cues from the mainstream media and think to yourself, “At least it’s just the fags and not some innocent person,” and then, eventually, the media stops mentioning the LGBT community and you conveniently forget how savagely my people were targeted. Because it’s inherently our fault, isn’t it? Because for all your bullshit public espousal of words like equality and freedom—or worst, tolerance—, there’s something in the back of your mind that reminds you there’s something wrong with The Gays. We brought it on ourselves. It’s divine retribution, or at least a good start. So it’s a good thing that demented fuck with the gun didn’t go to, say a grade school, right? Sure. Whatever helps you sleep.

You don't know.

Congress and local leaders always offer a moment of silence after a tragedy like this. But you and I both know their silence is empty. We cannot afford to remain silent and silenced. We cannot afford to allow the weapons manufacturers to make enormous profits from the blood of our friends, neighbors, and family. 

If only more good guys had guns, the world would be safer, that's what the NRA teaches. Except we know this to be EMPIRICALLY untrue! Ask an Australian. Ask a Canadian. So take your shares of the weapons manufacturers and wipe the blood off your hands the next time this happens. You do know their share prices rise with each new mass shooting, don't you? Here's something to think about. Of the $3,782,803 the NRA has contributed to buying Congress since 1998, only $160,196 of that was spent buying Democrats. Now is the time to call and write your NRA whores in Washington and tell them to ban weapons designed to do nothing other than kill human beings.

You can’t know.

And I don’t want you to know. With not one ounce of my body would I wish this unsettled feeling on another person. I hope you never experience it. Chances are, though, unless we get the guns, unless we stop seeing people as “Others” and treating them as “Less Than,” you will.

This shooter didn't know the strength of our tribe, but we do. We will survive. We will rebuild and return--bigger, better, and more fabulous than ever. That you do know!

1 comment:

  1. Rob, my dear friend

    I have read many reactions and some of the tributes pouring in since this animal unleashed his atrocity against an entire group of people, and none has affected me more than yours did. Regardless what others say, this was a personal and deadly attack against your community and unfortunately, as long as America is the land of the gun, mass attacks like this one will continue, and those who worship the gun will continue to say "my thoughts and prayers are with those who suffered". WTF does that mean and how will that phrase used over and over recently, end the agony inflicted on the friends and family of the GBLT community in Orlando and elsewhere?

    Mass murders like this will continue until the NRA and the gun lobby no longer control America. Your country needs people with bigger balls to force your politicians who are bought lock, stock and barrel by the NRA, to STOP these mass murders from continuing. Americans do nothing but talk about the second amendment which I'm sure never envisaged assault weapons being unleashed on innocent people. Your leaders are fiddling while Rome (or America) is burning and they can't seem to get their fingers out of their asses.

    My heart grieves with yours at this unthinkable attack on your community, and that is what this is, an ATTACK on everyone in the gay community. I'm not gay but I feel your hurt and pain. You know how much I love you and you should also know that people all over the world grieve with you and everyone else who is GBLT, or those like me who are straight that are just as affected by this atrocity.

    Love and peace my friend.