That It Was a Gay Club

That it was a gay club. I will confess to feeling a tendency toward irritation when a famous person dies and everyone trots out a story of how they once passed that person in the line at Whole Foods and they shared a moment over the price of melon, making the public grief of the world and the private grief of the deceased’s friends and family into something annoyingly ego-centric for the speaker (tho, yes I understand it’s just our desire to connect and make sense that drives the need to share these anecdotes). So I’m going to apologize up front for drawing a line between today’s horrific news and my own relatively small personal narrative.

But that it was a gay club makes this one heartbreaking to me in a very unique way. When I think of my father as a gay man in the 80s I think of him not dying of AIDS, which he ultimately did. I think of him dancing his heart out at a disco. I flash to blurry impressions gleaned from fragments of overheard conversation about his nights at the Saint (the era’s hottest NYC gay club), dancing until dawn under the retractable planetarium-dome ceiling.

I think of the time the Pavilion on Fire Island had temporarily lost their liquor license and so he took me, at all of nine or ten years old, out dancing and how I was too shy to join him on the floor, choosing instead to watch him, in his crisp white jeans and t-shirt, from a balcony above.

I think of ‘sri’ the Sanskrit word for ‘boundless beauty’ that defines this endless loop of imagery embedded in my heart. His smiling face, his body free and strong and vibrant. That beauty mirrored back a million times by others dancing with him around the world.

I believe we are all God. That we are all what my spiritual teacher Michael Beckwith refers to as ‘emanations of the divine.’ And there my be no more sacred a channel for the radiant joy, love, and beauty human beings are capable of expressing than a gay disco. There may be no beings on this earth more divine than gay men and women free to be and celebrate themselves on a dance floor.

Call it an act of terror. Call it a hate crime. Call it more gun violence. It is all of these things. They are synonymous at this point. But to me, it is an attempt to stamp out the eternal flame of existence, of God, of the ultimate magnificence of humanity itself, of something the gay community understands better than others.

That makes it all the more upsetting, to me. But then again, it also makes it a reminder of that which is most precious, most sacred in this world. That which is ineffable. Our ability to love and be loved, to be and express ourselves freely, and to dance.

Emily Ziff Griffin is a writer and producer living in Los Angeles. She is the author of LIGHT YEARS a novel for young adults coming in May, 2017 from Merit Press.