Sunday, June 19, 2016

They just wanted to dance...

I want to laugh.
I want to cry.
I want to be angry.
I want to be sad.
I am trapped in a thousand-yard stare.
Their's is a million.
Because all they wanted to do, was dance.
I have so many words, but so little to say.
I am tired.
I am hoarse.
I am weak.
But all they wanted to do, was dance.

Two Men Dancing by Robert Mapplethorpe


I am tired of reading about guns and terrorists and stories of dead women and men, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters.

I am tired of the media. I am tired of the preachers. I am tired of the politicians. 

I am tired because I am enraged. 

And I am enraged, because of Orlando.

The fanatically devout have hijacked the Orlando massacre to suggest this senseless tragedy is somehow a threat to their distorted morality. The NRA thinks more AR-15s will stop more AR-15s. And the media - CNN, MSNBC, Fox News - purveyors of 21st Century Yellow Journalism, have called this an attack on "humanity."

Yes, this was an attack on humanity, a very marginalized piece of it. A community too few journalists are willing to mention, because ads don't sell well when minorities die. A very specific piece of humanity that hypocritical preachers and politicians are using to wage war, incite hate, push guns, ban guns, and claim themselves the victims.

They don't get this one. Like like this.

This was not an attack on a sanctuary for religious fundamentalists. It was an attack on a sanctuary for those persecuted by religious fundamentalism. To those in the media, the pulpit, or the congressional podium telling me to pray, and not politicize. You made this political.

You spent billions fighting my God given right to love. You used my community as online click-bait. You told me I needed to pray for my salvation, and now you dare ask me to pray beside you? How dare you? How fucking dare you?! Fear mongers and politicians don't want our prayers. They want our silence, while they figure out how to weave this into their own agendas. 

Make no mistake. This is not about them. This was an attack on the LGBT community, and all of those who have come to embrace the very notion of a love worth fighting for.


In case you didn't know, I want it to be clear:


Today, more than any since I came out 22 years ago, I think it is so important to say that. I am gay. I refuse to hide. I refuse to live in fear.

To me, this was not "another shooting," albeit how sad anyone should ever have to write those words? This was not something that "could have happened anywhere" or "to anyone." Whether Omar Mateen was a closeted homosexual disgusted with his own orientation, or a card-carrying terrorist disgusted with mine, this was an attack that happened in one place, to one group of people.

The pious preachers and career cronies who have called this an attack on "humanity," on "America," have spent their lives deeming that humanity inhuman, and their careers trying to legally shut me out of that America. If you're wondering for a moment why this is so personal to me, or any LGBT people you may know or read about, why I am so angry, distraught, and physically tired from thinking so much over the last seven days: think about how tight, and small, our community is, and how much that requires us to depend on one another.

Heterosexuals live in a detached world of Six Degrees of Separation. We, whatever letter in LGBT you want to pick, have about two. None of us can go on Facebook without reading a story about a friend or friend's friend who lost someone they knew in Orlando last weekend. When we read the news on Sunday morning, each of us was filled with dread, running through our mental list of friends and acquaintances, wondering who among them was in Orlando last weekend.

Pulse was a very popular nightclub, and Orlando is a very popular destination for the LGBT community. We always know someone who is there, and until Sunday, we always thought it was safe, at least in the relative terms that any member of the LGBT community can ever feel safe.

And yes, Pulse was a nightclub. Some people have brushed this off as a "nightclub shooting," something not as sacred to anyone as a church or school. But to the LGBT community, these are our sacred places. It's unfortunate it has to be like that, but the LGBT community is unique in that we are not a religion or a race, we don't have deeply rooted communities or churches to lean on. We are born to anyone, everywhere. Sometimes we are born to families and communities that abandon us. And those that don't, families that choose to love us, often don't completely understand. We lean on gay bars and gravitate to cities like Orlando because they are places where we can find people to relate to. Our nightclubs aren't just places to get drunk or get laid, they're places to make friends, and they build communities.

To have that torn open and violated is deeply personal, as personal as any disturbing attack on a church or a mosque or a synagogue or a school. Whoever Mateen was, and whatever his reason, this was an attack on a very specific and marginalized group of people. I can't even say "citizens" because too many of the preachers and politicians who have seized this massacre to serve their own agendas would have LGBT people deported if they knew how. 


I've watched many of my friends relate to heartbreaking stories about Sandy Hook, Aurora, Charleston, and too many instances where we should never have to utter the phrase "another shooting." I've read their requests for prayers when their loved ones are sick, and I've prayed. Some, even the most conservatively religious I count amongst my friends, have prayed for Orlando in the religious ways they know how. 

To those of you who have done the same, I thank you. From the bottom of my big gay heart, I truly thank you.

Social media can be obnoxious. I get that. It's a lot easier to talk about a dead gorilla than 49 children and their weeping parents. I get that too. It's hard. In fact, it's downright gut-wrenching. But I've seen others, some of the most outspokenly devout, I've seen them talk and pray across the walls of social media when the fallen are soldiers, Christians, children, teachers, or strangers in movie theaters. Yet this week, they've been silent.

Where is the rage now?

If the massacre of 49 people has you morally conflicted because they were gay, you need to reevaluate your morality. If you're worried that the person next to you in church might judge you for speaking out against the massacre of 49 people because they were gay, you need to reevaluate your church.

"Gay" is not a curse word. Ever. We are your brother, your son, your cousin, your neighbor, and your friend. And all we want is the ultimate of human rights: to love.

But if you truly are ambivalent over the senseless deaths of 49 people - of any orientation - well, whatever heaven you think you have waiting for you, I strongly suggest you wear sunscreen.


Last Sunday I was angry at a madman who tore through more than 100 of my brothers and sisters. But today, politicians, preachers, and media pundits - on both sides of the political spectrum - have added insult to injury by using this massacre to push guns, ban guns, sell ads, and ask me for my moment of silence. Fuck silence! I am enraged, and anyone who has ever known or loved a member of the LGBT community, been to a gay bar, or claimed to be on our side as we've fought something as ingrained as the fallacy of "American normality" for our rights, should be enraged as well.

I don't have any answers, and right now, that's what gives me the slightest bit of relief. There are so many layers, complexities, divergent opinions and motivations following last weekend's massacre, none will be resolved by bickering online, from the pulpit, the news desk, or the spin room. None of it will be resolved in the character limit of political or religious or media Tweets. And none of it will be resolved in any of the Presidential debates to come.

It is just profoundly sad. Every bit of it. The deaths. The reactions. The abuse. The support. The anger. It's too much to make sense of, so much it can't even be described as confusing. I can't look at anymore pictures. I can't read anymore stories. I don't want to read about terrorists and ISIS and Islam and guns and politicians and preachers. It is just sad, and right now, that's all I want it to be. I want to stop crying because I'm angry. I just want to cry because I'm sad.

And all they wanted to do, was to dance.


If you have any LGBT friends or family out there, I strongly suggest picking up the phone or sending them a message. You have no idea what that will mean to them. Because this, all of this, is almost too much for any of us to bear.

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