I’ve really struggled this week with my feelings about what happened in Orlando. This whole event felt extra personal because I lived in Orlando during my twenties. Pulse, and other gay clubs, were where I came out. My time in Orlando represents my passage to adulthood in many ways.
Orlando, circa 1989: At a lakeside picnic with a close friend.
Alexander Chee, writing in the New Republic this week said, “We have always known that the protection we feel in a queer club is illusory.”
That statement finally got to the heart of what I’ve been feeling. When I was twenty-six, gay clubs offered a new world order. I spent all week being closeted for work, family and neighbors. But on Saturday night at the club, finally, freedom. It was as if the community in the club was some utopia where everyone was accepted as fully themselves. To anyone who isn’t gay this probably sounds very strange because you get to be yourself all day every day. But I’m sure those of you who are gay can relate to this. Especially if you came out in the era before Ellen and “Modern Family.” And even still, in some parts of the country where it isn’t safe to be out, gay clubs offer the only respite from the rest of life.
To be victimized, killed, in possibly the one place you feel safe is horrific.
And for those who were wounded, whose families didn’t know until they got a call from the hospital, I feel for them. To be forced out before you’re ready or before you’ve come to terms with it yourself is tough to get through. Not just tough, in some states, impossible. In Florida LGBT citizens don’t have even the most basic protections under the law. You can lose your job just for being gay. The lack of protection leaves LGBT individuals vulnerable. And all these mean-spirited laws camouflaged behind some fear of gender-specific restrooms and who gets to use them are basically throwing gasoline on a smoldering fire of hate targeting the LGBT community.
I’m sick of it. And all the stupid memes about bathrooms and Trump and assault weapons… none of it is funny anymore. If it ever was in the first place.
Democrats, Republicans, even conservatives, have offered prayers to the families of the victims and to the victims themselves. Enough. To the people in positions to actually affect policy changes I say spend a little more time reading the book you’re always hiding behind. Prayer without action is useless.
“Faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” — James 2:17
If we as a democratic nation cannot protect those among us who are the most vulnerable minorities, then what does that say about us? We are certainly not the nation we arrogantly profess to be to the rest of the world.