For most of Sunday, I was able to keep myself pretty well distracted. There was work, and there was the Art Show, and there was dinner and TV with my family. But the evening wound down, and everyone went to bed, and there were no more distractions. There was no way to avoid standing in the swirling torrent of emotions that the Orlando shootings cause, even though I also sort of feel like I don’t have any business having these feelings in the first place, as I sit, safe and sound, at home.
I am grieving, for such a large senseless loss of lives, of people targeted for something as innocent and joyful as who they love. And I feel somehow wrong for grieving, because I have distance from this loss. It was not people I knew personally who were lost, but people that I never met, and likely never would have.
I am frustrated, that we still cannot pass sensible gun regulation. This person should have not been able to legally own a gun. He should not have been qualified to work for a security company. And because the loss of African-American lives has not been enough, and the loss of children’s lives has not been enough, and I know the loss of my community’s lives will not be enough either.
I am heartsick, that this may have been done by someone who belonged in our community. By someone who had been so twisted and harmed by his family, and our culture, that he felt he had to lash out in this way, when he might have found a home with us. And that he may not have found that home with us because of all of the division and wrongs we ourselves do to each other.
I am afraid, because my size and my strength cannot protect myself and my loved ones from a gun the way they can protect us in a physical confrontation. And while I know that there are people out there stronger than me, who can attack and harm me even without weapons, I still felt like I could handle what might come. I want that feeling back.
I am grateful, that those that I know and love are safe and sound, at least at the moment. That I have the privilege of being able to keep those who support me near, and shut out of my life those who do not. And I feel guilty that I am grateful to have these things, when so many others do not.
I am saddened, that this newest generation has had their illusion of safety shattered even more violently than mine did. That so many of them already had lost that illusion because of the thousand little ways we are all threatened every day.
I am sorry, that the the work so many of us have done to advance our rights has only been able to take us so far. That so many of us have let the victories we worked so hard for distract us from the fact that there is still so much more to do. That we feel exhausted, and just want to live our day-to-day lives in peace, instead of continuing to fight against what sometimes seems like such an insurmountable obstacle.
I am proud, of those who stepped in and risked themselves to help the injured, and those who did what they could to help in the aftermath. And of my friends who see how what has happened to us can be used to harm others, and have spoken out against it.
I am sickened, by the people who are actually celebrating this tragedy. Who believe that those who died got what they deserved, for nothing more than who they loved. And I am disgusted by the fact that I know some of those people are in my own family.
I am enraged, that the same elected leaders who have done everything they can to legislate away our rights and fight our equality, now offer hollow words of condolence, while simultaneously straightwashing what has happened. That three presidential candidates stood on the same stage as a man who openly called for our deaths, and faced no repercussions. That those same leaders call this an act of Islamic Extremism while supporting and being supported by “Christians” who call our execution good, and just, and right..
I am tired, of so many things. Of fighting to be recognized as a human being. Of speaking out for other oppressed groups, and then watching members of those same groups oppress mine. Of seeing so many members of my own community throwing others under the bus and using them as a stepladder for their own gain. Of so much us vs. them. Of looking over my shoulder, of having to always be ready to defend myself, of having to be ready to defend others.
I am ashamed, of the members of my family and my community who use this event to fuel their racism and religious hatred. Of those who would use our loss to justify further oppressing others. Of the members of my own community whose racism, femphobia, transphobia, body-shaming, slut-shaming, and all the other sorts of active oppression we engage in makes us unworthy of claiming our own equality.
I am hopeful, that no matter how hard they fight us, or how long it takes, the journey to equality is inexorable, both for my community, and for so many others who are kept down. That the more violently they lash out, the more we will know we are winning. That we will find a way to help those of us trapped in toxic environments to escape and stop living in self-loathing and fear. That my community will overcome it’s own prejudices and learn to support others who face similar oppression. I’m not naive enough to think that it will happen in my lifetime, but sometimes holding onto that hope is all we have to get ourselves through times like these.