I was in shock on Sunday morning as the body count in Orlando rose to 50 people with 50+ injured. Then in further shock as it turned out it was on Latin night during pride month where hundreds of latin LGBTQ people were gunned down because a man couldn’t stand the site of guys kissing on the street. Then I grieved as I read the story of Pulse, the night club named after the owners brother who had died from AIDs, who had come out to his traditional family and had been embraced by relatives. Pulse symbolized the sound of his heartbeat and served as a sanctuary for all LGBTQ people who hadn’t found sanctuary anywhere else. Then I grieved further as I read the Facebook feed of a parent of a former student who came out to her parents. Less than 24 hours after Orlando, a group of teenage boys drove by her as she walked home from school and yelled, “Faggot!”
Nowhere is safe for queer people.
Then among that grief was anger that once again we’ve added another mass shooting to our record – and yes “our” because it’s a result of the twisted collective gun culture in our country. And it is the largest mass shooting by a single person in the history of our country. I never thought I’d live to see that one. I was angry that the man who had committed this hateful act was on the FBI watch list, purchased a AR-15 assault rifle with his gun license, and no one batted an eye. I grew angry as watched people post, yet again, about the 2nd Amendment, our freedom to own a gun, conceal and carry, defend our property and family. After all the damage we’ve done with guns I’m seeing less and less freedom in these arguments. I grew restless as yet again politicians and many others offered thoughts and prayers yet stood in staunch opposition to any reasonable change in policies. I grew restless because I know prayer is my first response, a lament and cry for justice, and hopefully something that will lead me toward action and change.
On my way home from work I came to a stop at the last turn before our house. Ahead of me was a grassy bank that sloped down to the road. Placed directly in front of me for all drivers to see was a piece of cardboard with the words “Don’t disarm! – 2nd Amendment”. My anger grew but then quickly fell. Has this argument for our “freedom” to bear arms really come to this – grasping at whatever is available to make this argument stand? As I think about it sitting there lonely in the grass, collecting dew this morning, I think it truly stands as a symbol for gun culture. Weak, wet-cardboard shouts that have nowhere left to stand but at backroad stop signs. After the largest mass shooting in our history, this argument that stands for “freedom” and “protection” must be losing it’s place in the public.
I truly hope this is a symbol of what is to come. You’d think we’d wake up after an event like this. Yet you’d also think we’d have woken up after the hundreds before it.
I will pray that it is coming to that. I will pray for us to wake up to the foolishness of what we call freedom. I will pray that LGBTQ people will find the world a safer place for them as we move forward.
I will also act. Writing letters to congressmen. Seek understanding from those who are a part of the LGBTQ community. Figure out what it means to be an advocate and not a slacktivist.