“There’s been another shooting,” Sunshine said. “It’s bad.”
And to begin with, I thought nothing of it. America: there’s been another shooting- it happens every other day, and it’s never news.
I didn’t realise until later the blow he’d been trying to protect me from. Arguably* the deadliest mass shooting in US history, and LGBT people were the target.
It happened in Pulse nightclub, a sanctuary. “Pulse” refers to the heartbeat of the founder’s brother- after he died from HIV-related illness, she wanted him to live through the club. Now, the name of the club will be significant for different reasons.
Apparently the shooter** had seen two men kissing not a month before, and this enraged him past the point of reason. His already flourishing homophobia became motive for murder. He bought two firearms, constructed a diversionary explosive, and murdered at least (people are still dying) 50 people.
As it was Latinx night, many of the victims were Latinx. And although there is no evidence as of yet that the race of the victims mattered to the killer, this will undoubtedly have hit the LGBT Latinx community hard. POC communities need sanctuaries like Pulse more than white people do. They need to feel safe more than white LGBT people do.
Where do they go to feel safe now?
As I stood vigil in Manchester’s Sackville Gardens, at the centre of the Village, I heard the same fear echoed again and again: it could have been here. It could have been us.
I mean, it couldn’t have been us, because in this country a member of the public couldn’t just buy two assault rifles, but hey ho. Apparently guns need constitutional rights more than people do.
But throughout the world, LGBT people are afraid. Because we know we are hated. And we know that hate can get us killed.
We’re all familiar with it. I’ve got a “Christian” popping up in my comments telling me to repent or perish. What a love-thy-neighbourly thing to do.
And it’s that kind of socially acceptable homophobia that makes acts like the Orlando murders possible. It’s the 200+ anti-LGBT bills posted across 35 states. It’s Sky News pretending the sexuality of the victims was incidental to the crime. It’s the straight people who said, “Je Suis Charlie” for days and are silent now.
But I will not be silent.
I don’t think I understood Pride until Sunday. I thought I shouldn’t make a big deal about being gay, or trans. But now I get it.
Straight people, in general, will not speak out for us. They will not cry out when we are murdered. They will stand by as we are stripped of human rights. Quite often, they don’t even notice, because the straight media doesn’t let them know.
So we have to do it. And we have to be visible, because in a homophobic world, that is our defiance.
We will not be afraid.
We will not be silent.
We stand with Orlando.
*http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/06/13/481884291/putting-deadliest-mass-shooting-in-u-s-history-into-some-historical-context ; links to external sites are not indicative of the views of the author, more the author’s admission that he doesn’t actually know much about US history or mass shootings and isn’t going to pretend that he does.
**Not named here because he doesn’t deserve to be remembered.