In the Aftermath of Yesterday’s Massacre

We heard the news about the June 12 massacre on Sunday evening. A man declaring himself an Islamic fundamentalist entered a gay bar in Orlando, Florida and began shooting. He killed 50 people and harmed 54 more. It is the most destructive mass shooting in U.S. history.

My partner looked up from the computer screen as we started reading the New York Times article.

“Close the blinds,” she said.

Immediately I felt the old familiar fear. I checked the doors to make sure they were locked. I lowered the shades. We brought our dogs into the room with us and continued reading the news story.

We have been together for 34 years, but that does not make us safe. We are out and open about our love, but that does not keep us safe. We are alive now, today, but we cannot, we can never, count on being free of hate-filled destructive rage directed at us because we love each other. I am simply one woman loving another woman. Lesbian, dyke, queer, gay, bi, trans, whatever you want to call it, this difference means we can be the target of hatred. We cannot forget this fact.

We finish reading the article and stare at each other. My incredulous heart cannot grasp the violence. The loop in my brain sounds childlike and naïve. It goes something like this:

They hate us. Why do they hate us? They don’t even know us.

They want to kill us. Why do they want to kill us? We didn’t do anything to them. We don’t wish them any harm.

We just want to be left alone to love and live our lives. They can have their lives. Why can’t we have ours?

My stomach is upset. I am having a hard time digesting dinner. I am having a hard time.

The article reports that twice this man was investigated.  They determined he was not threat. Then he lawfully bought two weapons within one week and drove to a popular gay bar and began killing people. Did no one know he hated gay people? Did no one think that hatred is itself a threat?

In the aftermath of this tragedy, I only hear from gay and lesbian friends. My straight friends and family members do not consider how this act of terror directed at my community terrifies me.

Do they forget that I am gay? Do they forget that I belong to a sexual minority against whom violence is done every day? Do they forget that my community has paid a price in its effort to emerge from the silent margin, once hidden by shame and secrecy, to become a visible, vibrant presence in society?

I am scared, but I don’t want to be. I want to love not to fear. I want to love even those who are afraid of me, those who hate me. I want to love those who don’t see me, those whose ignorance erases me, those who know but fail to remember who I am. I want to love those who believe I have the same privileges as straight women, those who have no idea what I have experienced as an outsider to the heterosexual norm. I want to love all of them even more. And I want to love myself and my beloved partner with just a little more compassion and tenderness tonight and always.

 

11 thoughts on “In the Aftermath of Yesterday’s Massacre

  1. <td style="text-align: left; background-repeat: no-repeat;" align="left"; height="110" colspan="1" background="cid:top@58f11018dfd72d55050d50344049d669"I hold you both with so much love, respect, and honor. I rock you in my arms, I mount you on the altar of my heart, I walk the path of peace holding your hands, I create with you in words, in paint, in wood and stone. I love you both,Vijali Hamilton vijali@worldwheel.org http://www.worldwheel.org 202 492 4899 Vijali has dedicated her life as a peacemaker. She collaborates with diversified communities and utilizes her skills as a sculptor, filmmaker, poet, musician, and author to further this mission. Vijali started her World Wheel Project in 1986 circling the planet as she works with the arts in her quest for world peace.

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  2. Ann, I’m with you…not forgetting that many of my beloveds now feel more fear than they already felt. Thank you for sharing how you felt yesterday and I will share it with others. I don’t post much on Facebook, but I just signed the Move On petition to ban the assault weapon, but I know it won’t make individuals safe.

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  3. Oh dear sisters, Megisikwe and Ondé. I send all of my heart strength flowing out to you. My shock continues in great repeated waves and the abhorrent actions of a ‘radicalized’ maniac are incomprehensible. How can anyone still harm or kill because of who people choose to love!!?? Love, and love and love… Let your fear be transformed with the knowledge and truth of your/our/widespread/giant wingspread L O V E…vibrating, pulsing, through a huge community— all sisters and brothers lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, trans gender and allies. 💓

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  4. You are held in the arms of unconditional love from here always. I failed to contact you; I didn’t think of you as different, separate, but now I am aware of the fear you have to live with and fight against and I apologize for failing to say to you every time I have the breath to do so, you are beloved, you are precious, I intend to surround you both with love and light in hopes it offers protection. Neil and I love you both dearly.

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  5. Ann and Onde: I am so sorry for how this horrendous event has haunted you both and turned your life into fearing again. Love you both.

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  6. When I was young, my grandparents and all the older people were always gentle and chose their words with care. You did not want to say anything that might harm another person’s spirit. They felt that if the ceremonies were done correctly that balance harmony and compassion would be restored on Mother Earth. When people abused the ceremonies or came to them and were not respectfully it disrupted the flow of life renewal and good things. Humanity is in crisis because we have placed a high value on being superior and being seperate but a low value on compassion and sharing with each other. We have to revision the teachings and values which come through ceremony in order to heal these imbalances.

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    • Yes, that’s exactly right, respect and compassion for all of life in all of its myriad different expressions is key to the wisdom carried in that old, true way of life, and the ceremonies we were taught and that we keep today as we carry those lineages helps us return again and again to love, more love, and greater love, and less fear. Thank you, Scott.

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  7. I know you live with a kind of fear I may never experience.

    I can tell my friends “Be yourselves, express your love in public, I support you,” but even hand-holding or words of endearment make them targets. Your expressions of love are like the Germans’ yellow stars. How heart-breaking.

    So much senseless, inhuman reactivity to genuine love and affection–I will never understand it. I’ve been mourning along with my LGBT friends but the grief is for all of us; it must be terrible to live with so much fear & hate in one’s mind. And worse–it spawns fear in the minds of people who might become targets rather than human beings. Thank you for your bravery. May it always be met with compassion.

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