What Straight People Need to Understand About the Tragedy in Orlando

Steve Nesius/Reuters

It’s all connected, you see. Ranting about bathroom policies at Target, when trans people had been using them all along, with zero issues, tarring innocent people with the filthy brush of rape and pedophilia, othering them, dehumanizing them…when you remove someone’s humanity, you make it easier for them to die. It no longer seems like a loss, if something less-than-human is killed. Maybe it even feels like a little victory; one less freak to threaten your tiny worldview.

So you demonize the LGBT community, in a country where assault weapons are abundant, while religious groups gleefully open a firehose of gasoline on these omnipresent flickers of hate. Then when a four-alarm fire engulfs innocents, everyone is shocked, just shocked, and pearls are clutched as thoughts and prayers are offered, but everything else but the actual causes are blamed.

Second amendment zealots quickly take to internet comment threads to pre-empt calls for gun control, asserting, “It’s Mental Health, stupid!”, as if people with actual Mental Illnesses aren’t already begging you for respect and compassion; and while it’s true that the most fragile, mentally ill community members among us struggle with ideations, they are overwhelmingly suicidal — not homicidal. Some Christians chortle with glee, as potential ties to ISIS are called out, conveniently confirming their favorite stereotypes and worst fears; “It’s radical Islam! They’re the REAL terrorists!”. Heartbroken Muslims lash back as they steel themselves for another wave of punitive hate. They plead, “What about white people? Why aren’t they ever called terrorists?”, as they inwardly cringe at one more news story that heaps pain and shame on them.

Well, I have potentially shocking news for you: we might all be a little guilty. All of us.

If you think, “gay” is a synonym for “stupid” and you employ it frequently and enthusiastically as such…if you are boycotting Target because your right to “not be uncomfortable” is more important than a vulnerable human’s dignity…if you are religious and your mosque or church is the site of sermons that damn the LGBT community to hell while you sit there, shifting in your seat and thinking, “Well, I don’t know about all that, but it’s no big deal. That’s just how religious people are.”…guilty, guilty, guilty. If you let your Uncle rail about “fags” at the Thanksgiving table, with a frozen smile on your face, secretly updating facebook with a, “Relatives are the worst, amirite?” instead of summoning the courage to say, “That’s not okay.” Guilty.

When you hear someone express their loathing about the LGBT community (or any other group!), you can do one of two things: you can be complicit through your silence or you can take the much harder path of resistance and say, “No. That is not appropriate. And hate is nothing to be proud of, I don’t agree with what you said.”

“But, wait!”, you say. “That’s not easy! What if-?”

What if NOTHING. I have family members who no longer speak to me, because I pushed back against their revolting discrimination against QUILTBAG folks, dark skin, and Black people; I love family so much, I create it constantly to replace what I have lost. IF someone I am related to says something about gay people, IF they announce, “You’ve gotten so dark, no wonder no one married you!” when they see me for the first time in 10 years, IF they complain about “kalas” or “karumbans” being welfare queens or thugs, I SAY SOMETHING, because if I don’t, that stupidity goes unchecked. And that means it never stops.

If your hobbies include prejudice and intolerance, I hope your indefensible attitudes die with you; but you will not, under any circumstances, think that I condone your abhorrent opinions or stand with your hatred. I don’t have family reunions or anywhere to go for Thanksgiving, but I am fine with that, if, when my name comes up, people remember my last words — which were probably fiery ones — to them before they grunt and disinvite me.

We cannot stand by and let hate go unchallenged. ESPECIALLY now. Look where that craven strategy has gotten us, look who is running to lead the most powerful nation in the world.

And if you are way further down that horrifying continuum than some ignorant Uncle or Auntie, if you hate the sight of two men kissing so much that you feel compelled to execute innocent people for it, as last night’s home-grown terrorist did, get the fuck out of our country. I don’t care if you were born here. This land is our land, it is not your land. If you can mercilessly slaughter peaceful souls who embrace strangers as they invite them into sanctuaries, whether they were Christians gathering in fellowship in an African-American church in Charleston or ebullient PRIDE attendees, who were dancing joyfully at a club in Orlando, we do not want you here. We don’t want your guns. We don’t want your toxic masculinity. We don’t want your hate.

Take your backwards ass somewhere else, don’t you dare choose the most symbolically significant time of the year to walk into a celebration and LAUGH AS YOU MOW DOWN 100+ PEOPLE to set a horrifying new record for deadliest mass shooting yet. You are neither welcome nor wanted here, in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Omar Mateen: I am glad you are dead. And if you think that Pride will do anything but THRIVE after what you have done, you are the victim of your own hubris and delusion. You have martyred 49 queer POCs, and you almost martyred 50 more, and their blood, their precious blood, which is good enough for transfusions, their life force will seep through that floor, back to Gaia, where it will nourish the roots of this movement until it grows explosively.

May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands for the praise and glory of his name, for our good and the good of all people of conscience, who will only work thrice as hard now to fight for equality for all, whether that involves the right to not be fired because of whom you love, or the right to lock a bathroom stall without fear. There is a line of blood donors, right now, that is almost a mile long, waiting in triple-degree temperatures, to offer their very essence to those in need. That is who we really are, that is how we respond to hate and terror, and that is why we, not you, will win.