Alright, so thoughts on Orlando:
A few days ago, blogger Joe Jervis posted his annual Pride missive (1) on, among other things, why we have Pride in the first place. Among other things, he says “I’m proud because I’m a middle-aged gay man who has more dead friends than living ones and yet I’m not completely insane.” He’s speaking primarily about AIDS, of course, but the lives of queer people have always been under threat, from callous politicians and their excuse-makers to dangerous therapists, from religious preachers in pulpits to aggressors on the street.
This is far from the first time violence has happened in a gay club, which have historically been one of the few places where we can truly feel safe. It happened in New Orleans, in Seattle, in Galveston, in Roanoke, and in Atlanta (2). Violence also happens to queer people in their house of worship, in their schools, in medical care facilities, in their homes at the hands of their families, and by revered figures in their houses of worship.
This violence happens because queerphobia is instilled by some of the most prominent institutions and people in this country. As Son of Baldwin said:
Whenever a queer person is harmed or murdered merely for existing:
I blame all queer-antagonistic religions for making such behavior seem righteous.
I blame all queer-antagonistic politicians for making such behavior legal.
I blame all queer-antagonistic peoples for using any excuse to position queer people as threatening and dangerous.
I blame you.
Now is the time to analyze where this queerphobia is coming from — where, if the shooter’s father is to be believed, he got the idea that seeing two men kissing near his son is disgusting or worthy of violence. It’s time to challenge this. This queerphobia could be covert. My childhood church never called for queer people to be executed. They did, however, call for them to be ostracized. They called them sinners, they called them disgusting, they said they went against nature. If your religious organization or politician stands for anything other than for the full acceptance, love, and embrace of queer people — if they rely on dangerous stereotypes, fearmongering, or a just-asking-questions method of planting suspicions and catering to fears — they are in the wrong and they are to blame. Full stop.
I’m already discouraged that the media and certain politicians are minimizing that this was an LGBT club, or that it was a night primarily for Latinx patrons. I’m sure we’ll hear soon that we should not politicize this tragedy. The fuck we should. Queer lives, trans lives, black lives, Native lives, and Muslim lives matter far more than some gun-fondler’s wish to use an AR-15 to kill as many people as quickly as possible. I’m also sure that these attacks will be used to fuel Islamophobia, while if the shooter was a white Christian who believes the exact same thing about homosexuality we’d be hearing a whole lot about mental illness. Fuck that.
Hold politicians responsible and educate them. Hold religious figures responsible and educate them. Politicize the hell out of this. Remember the victims, and may they rest in power. Support the most vulnerable people in your community, who may need an extra hand right now. Fight bigotry, hate, and phobias, whoever they target. Love each other. Work for a better future.