More Reflections Post-Orlando


I wrote and posted this second essay to Facebook following the Orlando Massacre at the Pulse Nightclub on June 12, 2016.

This has been a hard week — more than I first realized or more than I’ve wanted to acknowledge. Orlando has really affected me. I don’t know how to describe it. I just know I don’t feel normal. My jaw has been clicking all week, which has never happened before. The body doesn’t lie. It reflects what the mind feels.

Exactly what I feel is too complex to express because I don’t fully understand it yet. That will come. It might just be pain. I tear up watching the news. But I still keep watching.

There’s something else I need to say — but I’ll preface by saying I really, really don’t want to make this post a debate about religion. Unfortunately the topic cannot be ignored either. So…

I’m finding all the focus on Muslims very upsetting. I see it as a denial of my life experience. I also see it as gays being used opportunistically as an excuse to demonize all Muslims. Too frequently this is being done by people who don’t particularly like us either.

Yes, I know the shooter this time was Muslim and yes I know that he declared allegiance to ISIS. (Apparently it’s possible he was driven by internalized homophobia. Unverified reports suggest there were signs he might have been struggling with his own sexual orientation. I doubt we can ever know, but if this is true, how ironic and tragic that the religion he supposedly embraced drove him to such self-hatred. It’s not uncommon that homophobia drives a victim to become the oppressor or perpetrator. To paraphrase Quentin Crisp, some queers are tough and some toughs are queer.)

But to my point: In all my 63 years on this planet, no Muslim has ever caused me trouble personally. Not once. When religion was their motive, everyone who has hassled or attacked me has been a right-wing Christian or someone influenced by them. We need to stop this ridiculous Islam versus Christianity debate and talk about hate.

Any time any religion is used by any person to advocate, excuse or passively overlook hate, it’s wrong. Period. Nuff said.

Which gets at part of what I’m feeling — the weight of this hatred (whatever the source) and the realization of the struggle ahead. I’ve always known intellectually we would suffer a backlash from the marriage ruling and other victories, but now I feel it in a way I haven’t before.

All the mass shootings we’ve witnessed are horrible. Newtown and Charleston stand out in my mind as particularly heinous, but they all are. This time, though, this time it feels personal. And it hurts.

LGBT people are not alone. Other minority communities face the same or similar situations, and unfortunately we’ll all probably face it the rest of our lives. Blacks, for instance, have endured the Klan, Jim Crow, lynchings, church bombings and all the shootings of late. These won’t be ending anytime soon either.

For now it just sickens me and breaks my heart that all the people pictured here have died. And I fear there will be more.

I’m also fundamentally optimistic and I feel certain I haven’t lost that. I firmly believe we will prevail in the end. A lot of people have shown a lot of support since Sunday. But, this has been a hard week and I’m not over it yet. I think just writing this will help get me back.

When tragedy strikes they sometimes say to go home and hug your kids. Well, I send out a virtual hug to all of you on Facebook tonight.

This compilation image showing some of the Pulse Nightclub victims was circulated on Facebook at the time. Source not known.

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