Pardon the pun. It is a painful one, I know. Not in the way of a bad joke being a groaner. But in the way that it picks at a wound too fresh to have even scabbed over.
I was greeted this morning by harrowing news from Orlando, FL. An (at the time) unnamed individual with an AR-15 and a handgun had opened fire inside a crowded bar, killing 50 and injuring another 53 (as of writing this). I was sickened. I’m still sick at heart.
The following is a post that I wrote on GM40, a discussion and support page on Facebook for Gay Men Over 40 and the people who love them:
I’m saddened, heartbroken, angry! The events of early this morning in Orlando Florida are beyond comprehension. The man who committed this act of domestic terrorism is not even human. No living, breathing, feeling human being could commit such an act. From all indications that I have seen he knew what he was doing. He set out to do what he did.
To knowingly go where he went, to a gay bar, armed and ready to kill, he was no Muslim, he was no Christian, he was no human. Whether he had connections to a jihadist group or not, this was an act of domestic terrorism. Not only has it set the people of Florida on edge and on guard, but it has set the entire United States on guard. We have seen what happens in other Western countries when there are acts of terrorism. We have seen what happens in our own country when there is an act of terrorism. We, as a community, will not let this put an end to our celebration of this month. Let it be a reminder, however, of the sacrifices that our brothers and sisters have made to get us to where we are today.
My heart, my prayers, every fiber of my being goes out to those who were directly affected by this attack in Orlando. I do not care if you are gay, straight, bi, lesbian, transgender. If you live in Orlando you were directly affected by this attack. If you are a part of the LGBTQIAA-etc community you were directly affected by this attack.
There is no positive spin on what happened today in Florida. There is no way that anybody, who is a thinking and compassionate human, can find any positive in this story. The bigots, the right-wingers, the extremist Christians and Muslims in the United States may find some kind of positive. But like I said, there is nobody who is a thinking and compassionate human who can find anything to celebrate in what happened today.
Wait. I take that back. Those who survived. Those whose loved ones, their friends, their family that died or were injured, those that are survivors. Those people, those heartbroken, scared, angry people, they have something to celebrate. They can celebrate their survival. They can celebrate the lives of those who did not survive this attack.
A few hours after reading the initial reports from local and national media outlets, as well as LGBTQIAA-etc related news sources, I was on the air with my friends Corwin and Cei doing Lavender Hill on KZUM in Lincoln, NE. We had decided last week that since this is Pride month for the LGBTQIAA-etc community that we would endeavor to remain focused on positive news and commentary for this week’s show. Obviously that was not going to happen after the hate crime and domestic terrorist attack at Pulse nightclub in Orlando.
The show started out on a light note this morning with “Dancing in the Streets” by David Bowie and Mick Jagger. That frivolity did not last long. We dove right into the story of the attack in Orlando. Though we only spent a few minutes talking about what happened we felt it our duty and responsibility to talk about it, no matter what we had planned for the show.
It is our duty, as thinking and compassionate people, to speak out about such horrific crimes committed against anyone. A single person killed out of hate and fear. A group of people violently attacked for who they are. A woman being raped. A child molested. A man beaten for the color of his skin. Whatever the crime. It is our duty to speak out.
After the show I learned that the police in Los Angeles, CA had stopped and arrested a man who was headed to the LA Pride Parade with several weapons. The two instances are not thought to be related. It is possible that the first inspired the second.
I wrote just a moment ago about how it is our duty to speak out when a person or a group of people are attacked. It is our duty, or responsibility. I’d go so far as to say it is our moral obligation – but I will not tell you that you must speak up publicly. I will not tell you that should put yourself in harm’s way. It takes a certain kind of fortitude to stand up in public and denounce hatred as hatred. It takes a certain kind of courage to put yourself out there no matter the risk. It is not something for everyone. I have written many times about how an activist can, and many do, risk their own safety by being a visible and outspoken activist for their cause. It is not for everyone. I applaud those who physically go out, stand on the street with placards and megaphones and shout out their activism for the world (or at least those who drive by) to see and hear. I applaud those who sit down to write activist blogs or posts on their social media feeds, those who sit behind a microphone or in front of a camera to pod- or vid- cast their activism. I also applaud those who stand up to the bully, the bigot, the ‘phobe and call them out on their actions and words. I also applaud those who make the effort and drum up the courage each and every day to get out of bed, go to work or school, and face the world as it is with the knowledge that they may be attacked, ridiculed, or otherwise hurt just for being them.
You can be an activist for the many or the one. You can be an activist for yourself.
The city of Orlando, FL has begun releasing the names of those killed by the terrorist. As you will note on the page, the victims listed have been identified and their next of kin notified.
There are some who may question my use of the phrase “domestic terrorist” regarding this attack. They would say that I should strictly refer to this as a “hate crime”. It is both. This was an act of “domestic terrorism” and a hate crime. The (and I hate to use this we know it to be true) alleged shooter was an American citizen born of Afghan decent who apparently had issue with homosexual men. Clearly, on such a level, this is both a “hate crime” and an act of “domestic terrorism”. Either way you look at it, it is an act of hate.