“Look around, look around at how lucky we are to be alive right now.”
This beautiful lyric, one of my favorites, floats through the entire “Hamilton” soundtrack. It’s all I can think of right now. Fifty people, many of them young (although why that matters to me I still can’t explain), lost their lives. And that’s not even all that was lost. I feel sick.
An entire city of people lost a place they could go that was theirs. A place of community and freedom of self-expression. LGBT bars are a special sort of magic; I know when I was young I felt safer there than anywhere else. It’s like when you go home and you take off your bra and your shoes and your masks that you wear to keep the world out, except with techno. Now that place is fraught with terror.
Pride events feel tainted with threat, now. I mean, let’s be real they always have been, but this was the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. It makes me think twice about getting together with my people in groups, being visible, being vulnerable, being seen. I talk a lot about how important vulnerability and visibility are for connection. They’re the only things that help us connect to each other. I know that visibility fights hatred. But also you can’t do that if you’re dead.
Is it safe to have a rainbow sticker on my office door? I do have one, so that people are invited right away to know they are safe with me. But are we safe from others? No, of course not. Friends worry about wearing rainbows because what if they become a target? I’d love to comfort them, tell them they won’t, but they might.
I send my beloved queer family members (oh right, that’s why it bothers me that so many victims were young) out into the world every day, and now I have a little extra fear for them as they traverse the waters of dating and adolescence. Of course, I always have fear for them, but this kind of shooting is properly called a terrorist attack because they have planted seeds of terror in me and others. Living life has become more terrifying now.
Now, too, many Muslims (and others that people seem to frequently mistake for Muslim) are at risk of retaliation hatred and violence. Hatred makes more hatred, and it all makes me sick. I don’t like how many religions treat sexuality. I don’t like how many people treat people of faith. It’s all garbage.
I remember after 9/11 we all talked about living life normally so as not to let the terrorists win. I hate to say this now, but I think in some ways they did win. My heart is aching, my head is tired, my hands want to wrap around my body and hide myself and my loved ones and my unknown family away. I want to create a secret oasis where no one will be hurt or attacked for simply dancing on a hot Sunday night. I just want us all to be allowed to exist without fear.
Most of the time we insist that we use our voice at Can’t Talk to create positive changes. We try not to rant unless we have a few ideas about how we can do things differently. We try not to shame or blame but to educate and lift up wherever we can. It is so hard to do that right now, but I will not give up our mission because I am personally hurting and scared. Rise up, all. Here’s how:
- Donate to the victims fund set up by Equality Florida.
- Donate blood if you can. Here’s the local organization.
- Contact your representatives about gun control.