I resisted weighing in on Orlando until I had time to process, but I don't know if that day will ever come. I'm not able to focus on anything else, and honestly I don't think we should.
It's so difficult to live in a country where I don't feel safe, where a shooter can gun down queer people on Latinx night at a bar in Orlando and talking heads feel justified calling it an attack on all people. It wasn't. Context matters. It's why people are rightfully shouted down when they respond to "Black Lives Matter" with "All Lives Matter."
This murder resonates with the queer community so deeply because an intimate site of love and acceptance, our space of safety and freedom, was destroyed by hate and violence. A haven from the terrors of the world was cut down that night.
I'm tired of living in a country where intolerance is presented as an acceptable point of view. I'm tired of labeling someone as "conservative" or "old-fashioned." I'm tired of side-stepping bigotry in order to appeal to the lowest common denominator. I'm tired of smiling when I'm offended because it's easier than challenging the oppression. I'm tired of living in a place where tragedies are used for political gain, where people can claim murder as an attack on all people and refuse to see the implications under the motive.
It's intolerable to think that we allow anyone to actively fight against our rights, dehumanize and degrade us publicly, take our lives, and call it freedom.
There is no silver lining here. There is no "at least maybe this will change [x]." If that's how you're processing, it's fine, but you need to remember we let this happen, and we let it continue every day. We all are responsible for ending racism, homophobia, sexism, patriarchy, and control of the government by lobbying groups. We are all responsible for change.
It was 10 years ago this February that I came out to my friends and family, and I hear myself falling back into the same refrain, "It was different, even then." Each year I marvel at the openness with which young people are approaching intersectional identities, my faith in the change growing so quickly that I actually tipped the scales and became cynical earlier this year as corporations ran up my timeline boasting their support of LGBTQ people. This is a hard jolt back into reality. It is a reminder that even though as a middle-class white man, I feel safe and supported, there are those that would do me harm, and I could encounter them even when I'm at a club dedicated to supporting my friends.
You can have marriage back. I'd rather be safe. I'd rather be able to gather with people I love in spaces that accept us. I don't need #loveislove because love isn't enough, and it's not the only weapon we have. Our nation has failed us and it continues to do so every single day. We cannot allow those who would mistreat us or benefit from our oppression to tell us that now is not the time to politicize the dead.
Quite frankly, I'm tired of seeing people offer their thoughts or prayers on social media and letting that stand in for any emotion. It's selfish and upsetting. It's okay to feel grief. It's good to process this in a way that is painful or makes you vulnerable to your friends and family, but thoughts and prayers are not going to prevent tragedies, shootings, or acts of terror.
Social media is vapid and curated by definition, but now is the time for that facade to fall away. Honor the memories of the people killed by fighting against the possibility of it ever occurring again. It sometimes feels like we worry that as allies of queer people, people of color, or disabled people we aren't allowed to weigh in on tragic events. In the past, I've shied from expressing my support to others when I didn't feel I belonged to their community. I now know how incredibly lonely this is. I know how disheartening it feels to see a million rainbows online when marriage was legalized, but not feel supported when tragedy strikes.
Standing in solidarity is important, but let it spur us to action. Queer people don't need your thoughts. They need your hands. Fight against oppression. Refuse to accept racism in all its forms. Ensure equal access for people of all abilities. Sign the gun reform petition. Stop trans discrimination and violence. Love is fine, but it's not enough.