June 12, 2016 marks the day of the deadliest mass shooting in US history.
50 people dead, 53 people injured after a night of celebrating Gay Pride at Pulse Night Club in Orlando, FL.
I am so sorry for every person that had to experience the horror of seeing, hearing, feeling, and witnessing a bloody massacre.
I'm sorry that 50 people died. They each had names, dreams, hopes, fears, and people who knew and loved them.
I'm sorry for the mom I saw on the news frantically appealing to anyone who has seen her son, call local police. Her son's boyfriend is in the hospital in critical condition. Her son hasn't answered any calls or texts to his cell phone in over 13 hours. She in agony. Grasping for answers with a broken heart.
I will not politicize this issue. Gun control laws, political agendas, campaign speeches, social media messages from presidential candidates and the victims haven't even been dead for 12 hours. Their legacies and the dignity that undergird them are worth more than that. We have to elevate the conversation.
“And sadly, the 49 people, the victims of a heinous, hate-inspired attack are lost. Who they are. What they liked. Who they loved. What they stood for. What brought them joy.”
The American media easily focuses on the assailant. Focuses on the history leading up to their attacks, who their family is, what the origins of their arrival in the US are, what they ate, who they hung out with, who their informants were, what their religion was, what websites they were on prior to their attacks and spends great deals of time doing psychological assessments- on air. And sadly, the 50 people, the victims of a heinous, hate-inspired attack are lost. Who they are. What they liked. Who they loved. What they stood for. What brought them joy. One of the things that brought joy to them was celebrating their identity as or with folks who are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer.
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month (LGBT Pride Month) is celebrated each year in the month of June to honor the 1969 Stonewall riots in Manhattan, NY. The Stonewall riots were the tipping point for the Gay Liberation Movement in the United States. It is commemorated by international, month-long celebration to the strength, vitality, social progress, and resiliency that is still alive in the hearts and lives of LGTBQ folks around the world as they live their truth.
Political advocacy and organizing happened within Gay clubs and spaces in many cities and towns across America. With an influx during the AIDS epidemic of the 80's. Gay Clubs have also historically been safe spaces for men, women, and non-gender conforming folk who face brutal homophobia and transphobia in their work, family, and otherwise public spaces. Their gathering last night at Pulse was an effort to celebrate through song and dance the pride, goodwill, solidarity, and empowerment that comes from being in a community of people who share your identity and experience.
My social media timelines have been flooded with responses. And in them, I began to question ways that we perpetuate our own biases and phobias or are complicit in predicting discrimination in the world around us.We may not be able to individuals to change the world. Change happens at both a systemic (systems, policies, etc) and individual level. We change the culture by expanding the conversations we have with the people in our sphere of influence every day and allowing those conversations to dismantle, challenge, and redirect our presuppositions.
We have to remember that the assailant who shot those victims with bullets is no different than those who shoot with bigotry, homophobia, vitriol biblical rhetoric and cause terrorism to the body, mind, and spirit of LGBTQ people every day.
“We shoot bullets when we tell our sons to “put some bass in your voice” because you think his voice is too soft and people may think less of him with the speaking voice he has.”
We shoot bullets every time you tell a LGBTQ person that, "you love them and don't condone/agree with their lifestyle."
We shoot bullets every time we seek to classify trans folks who are seeking to pee in a bathroom safely by comparing them to pedophiles.
We shoot bullets every time we vote for political leaders that seek to minimize, devalue, and disembody the livelihood of queer people.
We shoot bullets every time we retweet a politician we plan to vote for who has had a past of creating laws, policies, and systems that make the existence of LGTBQ people unequal to the existence that you may have as a cis-gendered heteronormative person.
We shoot bullets every time we support organizations that don't support marriage equality because how dare people want to share the same rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of (their) happiness that you have?
We shoot bullets when we pull our children from a classroom because you heard that their teacher is gay and you don't want them having influence over your child.
We shoot bullets when we don't invite Uncle Keith and his friend, Paul to our house for the holidays because you "don't agree with their lifestyle."
We shoot bullets when we tell your sons to "put some bass in your voice" because we think his voice is too soft and people may think less of him with the speaking voice he has.
We shoot bullets when we tell our daughters to, "stop being a tom boy and put on a dress" because she presents more masculine than you'd like and a dress might fix that.
We shoot bullets when we continue to call our niece's partner her "friend" at the family picnic.
We shoot bullets when we have deliverance services in church with the intent of casting out gay demons. Misusing our spiritual power to create emotional, psychological, and spiritual distress on the body and soul of people.
We shoot bullets when we use our biblical hermeneutic to tell LGTBQ people that God hates them and that they are going to hell for being who they also believe God created them to be.
We shoot bullets when we mis-gender and call someone "he" when they've identified as "she" and have asked you to call them the name by which they now identify.
We shoot bullets when we spiritually abuse people and condition them to think that they must live lives without companionship because loving and being married to someone of the same gender makes the God you both serve angry.
We shoot bullets when people aren't free to hold hands with their legal same sex spouse in public worship spaces because it doesn't "go with" your doctrine or mission statement published in the weekly bulletin.
We shoot bullets when we preach violent theologies from the pulpit that make people sit in our pews at church picking their bodies, identities, and alignment apart from the same sacred text that says, "I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works. My does know very well" (Psalm 139:14).
We shoot bullets when you put out your child after they courageously share their sexual orientation with you and you put them out to fend for themselves because you don't want them in your house "as long as they live that life."
We shoot bullets every time we post on social media that "the gay agenda is being shoved down our throat by the liberal media" but don't equally protest with such force, passion, or opposition when men kiss women on television.
We shoot bullets when we have to quickly say, "No homo" after we make a statement. Because in our mind, all things relating to being homosexual are bad.
We shoot bullets when we tell our sons that wearing skinny jeans, bright colors, and fitted clothes make them gay.
We shoot bullets when we are silent hearing folks being called "faggot" or "dyke", look up from our phone, and return to taking selfies and Snapchatting instead of calling a bigot on their behavior.
We shoot bullets when you attempt to police someone's expression of their femininity or masculinity and using your power to have them perform it in a way that is comfortable for you.
We shoot bullets when we scoff and say obscenities to folks who identify as trans for wearing makeup, dresses, and hair.
We shoot bullets when we say you are sending prayers to those killed in the tragedy but refuse to speak to, get to know, and make community with your lesbian neighbors next door.
We shoot bullets when you deny the intrinsic worth and value of people that are different than you and live their life unashamed and boldly.
Stop "sending thoughts and prayers" or "praying for peace". Stop it. They mean nothing until they are married and tightly bound with action. Action in changing what we say, how we think, how we feel, and how we treat others.
Put down your weapons. The ones you hold in your hands. The ones that come out of your mouth. The ones that inform the policies you write and vote for that seek to diminish humanity and the ability for LGTBQ people to thrive and flourish. The ones that injure people's identities, minds, bodies, souls, and spirit. Both cause death. Everyday.
Let's study war no more.
Go BE peace. BE love. BE light. BE comfort.