Words, usually playful and expressive, rolling off my tongue in intricate and eloquent phrases, escape me right now. I don’t know what to say. I have no words. And yet, I can’t not say anything. I can’t not acknowledge the attack in Orlando. Specifically, the attack on LGBTQ people in Orlando. Specifically the killing of LGBTQ Latinx. But there are no words that do any kind of justice to the magnitude of loss and the epic proportions that the world has shifted.
On Saturday I marched in the Boston Pride Parade. It was the first time I’ve actually marched and not just been a member of the cheering crowd. It was the first time the organization I work for has participated in the parade. It was the first time I have even been to Pride in at least 20 years, since it always takes place on a Saturday and Saturday is a work day for me. And not only did I march, holding the banner for the organization that has been my home-away-from-home for these 20 years, I was a parade marshal for our group. It was more work and more responsibility than I’d bargained for. A zillion emails and forms to fill out. But I knew that was about security and it was just fine with me. Knowing that the parade organizers were focused on security issues allowed me to gather my flock (so to speak) and simply enjoy the solidarity of being a proud member of and supporting the LGBTQ community, specifically the elders within it. Despite the cloudy and rainy weather, the Parade was fantastic, the crowds loudly supportive and I was euphoric. On Saturday.
By the time I woke on Sunday the news had hit about the attack in Orlando and the 50 people who were gunned down mercilessly and ruthlessly and hatefully and senselessly. The elation from the day before was sucked so abruptly and completely from my being that I literally experienced a vacuum-like hollow of nausea, fear and despair. I am not some 20-something, having grown up in an atmosphere where the words *gay* and *lesbian* are so common, where elected officials say those words and swear to protect and support the LGBTQ community, going about my life glibly being Queer. I remember all too well (having come out in my teens) furtively entering as well as leaving gay bars and clubs, being on guard, looking down alleys and around corners, making it look like I was just walking down the street and not going to or coming from *there*. I was chased more than once by young men standing across the street from the club I was leaving, having them yell at me, “HEY! Isn’t that a DYKE bar?!” as they menacingly came toward me and my friends. Those fears came hauntingly back to life as the media vividly recreated and described the horrors of the gruesome scene at Pulse nightclub. A club so like any of the clubs I found respite in weekly for so many years of my own life.
A new feeling arose in me alongside the grief and fear. Anger. I’m angrier than I’ve ever been. I feel angry (rageful) at nearly everyone and everything around me. And I can’t seem to stop the feeling. And I can’t even blame it on testosterone. I’m furious that people whine about not having the *rights*(sic) to purchase and own a weapon of mass destruction. It can be used for home protection or hunting the NRA tells us. Really?! How many successful home-protections balance out the colossal loss of life we’ve seen? And I’d like to see any of these shooters’ hunting licenses. I’m angry at my straight friends and acquaintances for their distinct lack of acknowledgement (never mind support) on social media, email or in person. Thanks for the lovely photo of your dinner plate, how about a word or two about the hateful rampage, the worst massacre in our country’s history against my community? Everyone turned their profile photo into the French flag on Facebook after the Paris attacks. Every single one of my LGBTQ friends are posting and writing and sharing singularly about LGBTQ issues daily in the wake of this attack. Approximately 5 of my straight friends are. The rest? Great cauliflower recipes, more food photos and cute puppy videos.
I’m also angry, resentful and outraged at men. Which I understand is confusing, given that I identify on the masculine spectrum. But MEN are the problem in bathrooms. MEN rape. MEN let convicted other-men-rapists off with a slap on the wrist. MEN are the shooters in all but one of these hate crime shooting sprees. Don’t make me get out my Susan Faludi! I swear, I know exactly where that book is!
It’s funny (not in that ha ha way). I’m angry and I’m sad and I’m despondent. But I’m not at all surprised. I guess I was hoping that something so big as a mass shooting killing 50 innocent young people would move people for more than a day or two. The thing is, LGBTQ people of my generation and before live knowing that this kind of hatred and nefariousness is always present, bubbling just below the surface. I’m not just being paranoid or dramatic. I know I’m not supposed to *read the comments*, but my morbid curiosity often gets the better of me and I do. Any of the recent trans-related articles regarding the bathroom had hundreds and hundreds of horribly, hate-spewing, vile comments with clear and abundant threat. Fenway park (my beloved baseball home field) hosted an LGBT-friendly night recently in honor of Pride month. I was afraid to go after reading the comments. The least of which was “gross! who would want to go!?” and the worst being, “I can only hope someone blows up the stadium that night”. I guess having any of those threats realized is just par for the course as they say.
If you can’t take my spewing anymore, we can go back to our regularly scheduled photo of my sandwich. If you’ve got the guts for more… well, this is so much more well said than anything I’ve been saying. Either way, thanks for listening.