I am angry.
Yesterday I was sad. Today, I am angry.
I know that’s facile and cliche and maybe even self-absorbed. I’m trying to think of a better word — I bet the Germans have a perfectly and oddly specific one, but English doesn’t, so angry will have to suffice.
I’m angry that I’ve always known this would happen.
I’m angry that when marriage equality passed last year, my second thought, right after “OMG yay!” was, “I wonder how long it will take for someone to blow up a gay bar.”
I’m angry that I then immediately scolded myself: “DON’T LET THAT IN. Don’t put it out there. Don’t live in fear. Cling to hope and the arc of justice always bending in the favor or righteousness and all that. Don’t let the bad become conventional wisdom, don’t let the pain of the past calcify into cynicism. Relish this. Celebrate it. Believe in it.”
I’m angry that that has now been proven to be naive.
I’m angry that Christians were taking to YouTube calling for armed reprisals the day marriage equality happened, and so far not a single Christian I know has voiced any support or agony over this barbaric tragedy that killed 49 gay and trans people and allies.
I’m angry that that will be swept under the rug because the gunman was a Muslim.
I’m angry that so many are actively sweeping the LGBTQ identities of the victims under the rug too.
I’m angry that they’re sweeping mine away with them.
I’m angry that the one and only closest thing to a “safe space” gay people, and especially trans people, have ever had — one that was already imperfect, all too often fraught with internecine stratification based on attractiveness, on body type, on dick size, on sibilance, on gender expression, but one that is so often for so many if not always a welcoming environment, at least a more or less physical and mortal safe haven in a world that is all too regularly the opposite — has now been overtaken by an outsized danger that feels as beyond hope as it is beyond comprehension.
I’m angry that people have felt that these safe spaces were appropriate venues for their bachelorette parties and that those same people will now keep their distance without even a thought for the dead and certainly without ever considering what they can and should do to help in the aftermath.
I’m angry that people who have never had to second-guess their surroundings, have never had to scan a room or listen for dog whistles, have never had to butch-up their speech or keep their faggy hands in their pockets just in case, now want to cast us aside and lecture us about having the unmitigated gall to politicize a tragedy that supposedly affects some identity-free “all of us.”
I’m angry that my fearful hesitance to kiss or hold hands in public, to do anything that would make anyone even for a moment think about me as a sexual being or the kind of sex that I have, even in Chicago’s Boystown, because you never know who’s watching, has been proven right.
I’m angry that the worst-case scenario is no longer neuroticism, but realism.
I’m angry that this was proven in a place as liberal as Orlando, FL.
I’m angry that gay and queer and trans people in isolated places where their day-to-day existence is inherently risk-laden have to see that not even the big city queers are safe.
I’m angry that the last romance I had was ruined in part by that very hesitance — by both of us tacitly feeling, in those early days when things are just barely beginning to take shape, that all we had were two options: chaste handshakes on a street corner or doing what people do behind closed doors. No in-betweens, no holding hands on a walk home, no kisses goodnight at the gate, nothing to see here folks, just two men sharing space and nothing more, don’t get any ideas, unclench your fists, put down your baseball bats, holster your guns both figurative and literal. I’m angry that those hesitations have turned out to be prudent. I’m angry that a younger generation of queer people that has been far more comfortable in their own skin than mine are now having to even consider whether they should walk back their self-actualization for their own safety.
I’m so fucking angry I can’t breathe that a lot of the people inside Pulse were undoubtedly sharing those same first moments of physical affection, that first rush of intoxicating splendor, that lightning that shoots through you the first time your lips touch theirs, that moment when you’re drunk and it’s dark and there’s something about his smile or the way she dances that makes you want everything in the world to stop so it’s just the two of you, and that in the middle of those people’s blissful, sexy, rush-of-blood-to-the-head moments the world did stop because a bigot on an FBI watchlist who had no trouble legally acquiring a military-grade assault weapon started blowing people apart.
I’m mad that 20 years after Matthew Shepard and Columbine we’ve learned nothing and I’m mad that 5 minutes after Sandy Hook and Aurora and San Bernardino and Charleston and all the ones I’m forgetting — so many events where PEOPLE, mothers fathers sons daughters aunts uncles boyfriends girlfriends husband wives and friends fucking DIED, there are so many of them that I can’t even do them the solid of remembering them all here without having to fucking Google it first — we’ve learned nothing.
We’ve done nothing. We’ve prayed and reflected and hashtagged and done literally nothing.
I’m mad that Charleston was defined as a specifically Black event, an event specifically about Black death, about Black peril, about Black history, but the identity of this event is being actively erased by some, all in service of othering in the case of the former, of being comforted by the fact that it happened to “them” and not “us,” and in service of having just another reason to hate and scapegoat Muslims in the case of the latter.
I’m mad that Black identities and bodies then and LGBTQ identities and bodies now are being used as cudgels for bigotry and jingoism and preservation of white straight men’s delicate supremacy at the expense of marginalized people’s personhood.
I’m angry that nobody from my family has bothered to reach out to me and express condolences or support.
I’m angry that when I came out to him, my father asked me, with tears in his eyes, “Gay people are hated and killed all over the world, why do you have to be one of them?” And I’m angry that all that concern hasn’t made him pick up the phone yet.
I’m mad as holy fucking hell that mine is just one of millions of parents who haven’t picked up that phone.
I’m so mad I’m shaking that mine is just one of millions of parents who haven’t picked up the phone and meanwhile, in Orlando, 49 sets of gay and trans people’s parents’ phones are ringing with calls from hospitals and police stations notifying them that their child’s corpse is one of the ones presently rotting on a blood-soaked dancefloor amid the detritus of bullets and shattered vodka tonics.
I’m angry that we haven’t even made it an entire year with marriage equality before this happened. You couldn’t give us a goddamn year?
I’m angry that that is being subverted in favor of jacking off to our national preoccupation with the “War on Terror” and “patriotism.”
I’m so mad I can’t breathe that nothing will change.
This will not change a goddamn thing.
Sandy Hook didn’t.
Nothing will change until someone mows down a bunch of Senators’ kids at the Sidwell Friends School, God forbid.
And maybe not even then.
I am angry. I am tired. I am sick.
I am sick of playing by the rules and doing the right thing while every goddamn day there’s another Black person snuffed out for doing nothing by the very people meant to protect them. I am sick of playing by the rules while rapists are given a slap on the wrist and a stern talking-to so that their athletic careers aren’t ruined. I am sick of playing by the rules while people known to be unstable bigots, known to be on FBI watch lists, continue to easily buy military-grade assault weapons with which they kill massive numbers of people, so that right-wing dumbshits aren’t forced to be bothered to give a fuck about someone other than themselves.
I am sickened that I, a person with so many advantages — white skin, cisgender expression, education, living above the poverty line, in a body that easily blends into straight society, with a tongue that can when I need it to — can feel this damn defeated and at the mercy of whether or not the rich and powerful think anyone but themselves deserves to be treated like a fucking human being.
I am sick of listening to people actively seek to derail a presidential election out of spite, so that a megalomaniac who will make all of this infinitely worse will win, in order to prove points about minutiae instead of focusing on the big picture. I am sick of those people refusing to acknowledge that that is how we ended up with George W. Bush, and I am sick of that because that is partly how we ended up here today, in this aftermath.
I am sick of listening to people refuse to listen to anything that challenges their own inertia.
I am sick and tired of listening to us collectively ask, “How many times must this happen?” and then not even being bothered to show up to vote.
I am sick that the loss of these 49 people’s lives and the permanent disfigurement of the survivors’ will be dishonored and undignified by whatever soul-suckingly dishonest, disingenuous, cravenly beside-the-point conversation will ensue in the aftermath of this massacre.
I am tired.
I am tired of America.
I am so, so, so tired.
And lucky to be alive. We are all lucky to be alive.
And that is fucking sick.