Days have passed since the horrific attack at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, and I am still largely speechless. I’ve read a lot of articles and testimonies, and I echo the sentiments shared by many colleagues and friends.
It’s not easy to write after such an event; yet I feel compelled to speak in the midst of my hopelessness.
Being young and gay, the club scene was a safe haven – a sanctuary, if you will. I always experienced clubs as magical lands of make-believe: places without judgement, places without societal pressure, places without hate. Clubs were mini-societies where you didn’t need friends because you were among family – and all people were welcome. They were holy spaces where one needn’t hide one’s true self. I could be the ‘me’ that was hidden from the rest of the world. I felt normal in clubs. I felt safe in clubs. And that safety has been forever desecrated.
As much as I want to blame the NRA and the pro-gun lobby, that falls on deaf ears. I wish I could point a finger at the GOP who continues to block reasonable gun control, but instead allows violent people access to assault weapons whose purpose is mass killings. I wish I could hold a large number of (so-called) Christians accountable, because they have twisted God’s word in such a way to devalue our lives. But none of those things will help.
How oft must we have this conversation? How oft must we hear these stories? How oft must Rachel weep?
My friends, it is time to act. We must admit our addiction to firearms. We must beg God’s forgiveness and seek a new way to express freedom. We must ascribe dignity to each human life and stop our obsession with violence. There is no time left to wait, watch, and weep.
In the days and weeks ahead, I’d like you to keep two things in mind:
First, we will need space and time to heal. And while allies can help in that process, allies can also get in the way. Reach out to your LGBTQ friends, but don’t enter their woundedness until you are invited.
Second, this was not just an attack against us, but an attack against our sacred places – like watching one’s childhood home be destroyed. When you speak with your LGBTQ friends, listen to their stories about these sanctuaries.