The LGBTQ community is not “those people”. The LGBTQ community is part of my community.
I met my husband in a gay bar. (Well, technically we met on AOL, but in person we met in a gay bar.) We spent a lot of time there, over the next couple of years, with a group of good friends. We knew the bartenders, we knew the wait staff, we knew the people that performed in the drag show. Some of our friends were gay, some weren’t, some were a bit fluid on where they stood, and we shared a community based on enjoying each other, not on labels or who we wanted to kiss. Orlando’s mass murder makes me feel sick, that could have been any of us.
I went to college in San Francisco, during the beginning(ish) of the AIDS epidemic in the 80s. I grew up in Berkeley, also a gathering ground for gays and lesbians. I have/had friends, whom I love, who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer…. some of them I no longer know, but the good memories remain. They were part of my community, not anomalies to be singled out. Some are my friends that I interact with regularly, mostly on facebook, but nevertheless part of my life. Some of my closest friends even. Orlando’s mass murder makes me feel horrified, that could have been my community.
And, *most importantly for me*, I have a daughter who is queer. I have a daughter that loves to go out dancing. I have a daughter who loves passionately, with her whole heart, who I think feels exhausted and angry and heartsick and threatened, just for being who she is and loving who she loves. Orlando’s mass murder makes me feel devastated, THAT COULD HAVE BEEN MY DAUGHTER!! That could be my daughter next time. This is terrifying.
I have felt afraid just for being a woman, alone on a dark street.
I have felt afraid just for being a woman, walking alongside a construction site.
I have felt afraid just for being a woman who had maybe one drink too many, among strangers at a bar or a party.
I have been frightened, been molested, been raped, been angry and heartsick.
But, *never* have I felt afraid of being KILLED just for being myself, just for holding hands or kissing a person that someone else completely unconnected to us thought I shouldn’t.
It’s unthinkable, and yet it is unavoidably part of her life, and therefore part of mine.
What can we do, beyond exclaiming “This is terrible! This is unacceptable!”? What can I do, beyond being as loving as I know how to be, beyond sharing my feelings with you, beyond listening to your stories? I don’t know. I’m sure the universe will be telling me. I hope I’ll be listening for it, amidst all the noise out there clamoring for attention, amidst all the noise in my head.
“Imagine all the people, living life in peace … You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us, and the world will be as one.” – John Lennon’s “Imagine”
Imagine. Peace. Love. Namaste.
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