My instinct

Following Orlando, I am angry — but we need to heal

A photograph of me at a Proposition 8 protest in Syracuse, New York, on November 15, 2008.

Following the attack in Orlando this weekend, we in the queer and trans community are devastated. We are bewildered. We are hurt. We are angry.

Beyond the hurt and the devastation, I am enraged. I can feel the fury and indignation at having a safe place breached.

Following the passage of Proposition 8, in 2008, I was so angry. Following the loss of comrades in Iraq, I was a different kind of angry. Now, I feel both of these types of anger combined. They form a whirlwind.

I confess, it’s sometimes hard not to let these turbulent feelings take over. I even find myself having the unhealthy yearning for revenge.

There is some base part of me that simply says, “Fuck them.” Them. The “other” on the other side. Feeding upon my fury, this part of me wants to lump people together. To dehumanize them. To dehumanize everyone. Perhaps this is a military-instilled instinct. An instinct to see “the enemy” as targets.

Lashing back with hate and violence seems immediate and satisfying. It feels like it will satiate that part of us that is screaming in pain, demanding to be heard, demanding to be vindicated. But acts of violence will not erase our loss or end our pain. They will not restore our sense of security in our once safe places. They will only strengthen the tumultuous cycle of hate and fear.

I have to get past this. We have to get past this.

It’s natural, perhaps unavoidable, for us to feel anger. We can’t be asked not to feel. We must channel this anger, not conquer it. We need to write; to speak out. We must come together as a community to grieve, to mourn, and to support each other.

And then, I start crying. Like a young helpless child. In a sense, we all find ourselves as helpless children right now.

A sacred piece of our innocence and pride within our community has been lost.

An attack on any single one of us — no matter how much drama our own community can create at times — is an attack on all of us.

Right now:

  • We need to hug each other.
  • We need to forgive each other.
  • We need to unite together.
  • We need to work to make the world a better place.

I have written an article for the Guardian that has some suggestions.