Hey, all. I know I normally try to keep things light on this website, but today for a few minutes, I wanted to talk about the shooting that took place last night at a nightclub in Orlando, Florida.
For anyone who isn’t aware, last night at around 2 AM local time, the United States experienced the most deadly mass shooting of its history and what has been deemed the “worst terror attack since 9/11.”
Some of you may know this already. But what you may not have been told yet is that the nightclub in question was an LGBT space.
I submit to the possibility that this was pure coincidence; after all, the shooter in question specifically pledged allegiance to ISIS in a 911 call before the attack. I also recognize it could be coincidence that this fell not only within pride month, not only within pride week, but on the very same day as the Capitol Pride celebration. It’s possible by the tiniest of margins that homophobia wasn’t a factor when a target was selected for the attack.
As a member of the LGBT community, forgive me if this possibility doesn’t bring me enormous waves of warm fuzzies.
Yeah, yeah, I’m bisexual. I’ve never formally come out on this blog before, and I certainly meant to do it in a different way, but we can chat later about my personal life. This isn’t the time for me to recount my coming out story. This also isn’t intended to be a news article, so if you’re looking for detailed information about the attack, I’d kindly direct you to Google, where a plethora of much more reputable resources awaits.
No, this blog has always been me plastering the internet with my own feelings. However small or uninvolved my voice is compared to the hundreds of people actually present in Florida, I would like to add to the mix my own reaction to this event.
Something important you should know about me: I don’t get offended or angered very easily. I’m always up for people throwing a gay-bashing joke at me, and I’m so used to being called a faggot (maliciously or otherwise) that it rolls off my shoulders. I hold no grudge against people who disagree with my values. I believe in speaking out against discrimination without being angered or wound up about it.
But I think for the first time, it’s really hitting me that I’m a part of a world that simply doesn’t treat people like me the same as others.
I want to be extra careful with the lectures, because I also don’t believe in complaining. I’ve been through some pretty awful experiences because of who I’ve fallen in love with, but generally my reaction to this is to shrug and say “Welp, life’s not fair. Whining won’t fix it. Let’s press on.” To me, being LGBT has simply meant I’ll have a tougher time of things than others, and that’s my battle to face.
But this feels different. I think that’s because this had nothing to do with me; it had to do with an innocent group of people singled out because of a trait I share with them. I sure don’t live in Florida, but I did almost go to the Capitol Pride celebration this weekend. What if the shooting had taken place there?
I learned a lot of tough lessons growing up. I learned that it’s going to be difficult for me to be accepted by my more conservative friends and family. I learned that some people are going to treat me worse because I seem like some outsider. I learned that, no matter how supportive everyone around me has and will always be, the reason they feel the need to be supportive in the first place is because—for better or worse—I’m different. I’m cool with all of that.
But I never learned to look over my shoulder.
I never learned that this sort of thing could potentially happen to me. Emotional attacks? Lay them on me. I’m tough enough to handle heartbreak or isolation. But no amount of personal resolve is going to stop a bullet if someone sends one my way because of who I love.
After the Aurora shooting in 2012, my parents kept me home from movie theaters for a few weeks. To this day, that remains the most ridiculous instance of overprotection I’ve ever experienced.
That attack—which, incidentally, is second only to this in being the largest mass shooting in the USA—resulted in 82 people being shot, with 12 fatalities. The Orlando attack totaled in 103 people being shot, with 50 fatalities. In case you don’t feel like running the calculations, that’s over four times more fatalities and an increase of 25% in people who were shot.
Let’s get mathematical! Extrapolating my parents’ fears, this would mean I could be straight as an arrow and still need to be roughly 400% more cautious now than after the Aurora shooting. The mathematical factor which incorporates my queerness—and the statistical probability of me being shot dead because of it—is something we’ll just have to leave to the imagination.
That part shouldn’t be too tough; after all, it doesn’t take a forensics team to get to the bottom of why LGBT folks were and are targeted. Some people hate what they don’t understand. That isn’t complicated.
In my humble opinion, there exists only one way to battle this kind of discrimination: through a cultural shift, which I hope and suspect will happen over the next few decades. As the newer generations grow up, hopefully we can all recognize that being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender literally makes no difference towards a person’s character. If someone is a kind, funny person, them being LGBT doesn’t make them any less kind or funny. Conversely, if someone is an obnoxious jerk, them being queer as a three dollar bill won’t make their company any less deplorable.
See what I’m getting at? People are people. Love is love. At the end of the day, we’re all human.
For fuck’s sake, let’s start acting like it.