Monday, June 13, 2016

Unsafe

Note: links in this post only go to informational lists, not to news stories. 

I'm not going anywhere there's news today, not even to watch the Philip DeFranco Show. I don't want to know what the media is saying right now.


About a shooting in a gay nightclub, on Latin Night, during Pride Month.


I don't want to think about how to interpret politician's reactions and whether or not they're using 50 deaths to their advantage.

I don't want to enter upon discussions about Muslims and immigrants and building walls.
I don't want to even contemplate what Trump is saying.
I don't want to catch a whiff of, "it's too bad those people died living in sin."

I don't want to careen off into other hot political topics. I want to focus on those who died. Stand alongside the survivors. Try to stop it from happening again.

Source: Katherine Locke.

By pure chance, I wasn't on the internet much Sunday, and didn't hear about the shooting until later. I went on Twitter once and by that point we had #GaysBreakTheInternet. Queers posted selfies with proud messages of we exist, we are not invisible. Some people even came out of the closet to support the victims and survivors in Orlando.


This morning I went straight to Vox, because I knew they would have the facts and no opinions. The end showed tweets from the LGBTQ community expressing love, support, and awareness.


That was hard.


I want to stay right here, in my and my friends' grief. But even without looking at media, I can't help wondering how the rest of the world is reacting. The largest shooting in American history. Is everyone mourning with us?


I can't help wondering if many people feel removed. If thinking, "I don't visit gay nightclubs and I don't know anyone who does," makes it harder for you to relate with the victims. Does that lessen some people's sorrow?


Last week I researched the FBI's crime statistics for a short story. Saw the section on hate crimes, and the yearly numbers. It breaks down by crimes against race, sexual orientation, gender orientation, or femaleness.


I wonder: will the events at Pulse night club enter the hate crime stats for 2016?


Will it go under Sexual Orientation: Gay,


or under Race: Latino?



Those classifications don't tell us they were people. They had dreams, friends, lives, and personalities we cannot capture with labels. Everybody is intersectional and interstitial. The only thing that can truly communicate a person is a story.


That's why my friends and I will continue writing stories about characters of every race, sexuality, gender, and culture.


People always ask, why do you need a queer character in a movie? Why do you need a queer protagonist in a novel? Why do you have to make it so big and bold and in our face?


Because it's still not safe to be queer.


Because people still ask these kinds of questions.


Because people still think that queerness is something to hide your children from. As if I, as a person, need to come with a trigger warning same as a graphic rape scene in a movie. As if my existence is hurting others.


Because people continue to attack, beat, and murder us.


Because the media talks about us like we're a collective object. We need a reminder to lift our heads.


Because as long as people don't see queer characters in books and movies -- up on podiums, in classrooms, on the news, and in Office -- people will continue to think of queerness as weird. As long as it's an unknown quantity, it will be scary. As long as people are scared, some people will commit acts of violence against us.


We say violence comes from anger, but anger is just the cover. Homophobia means fear. Fear of other people is what creates weapons and moves armies.



Equality House, across the street from Westboro Baptist.

It isn't safe to come out.

That's why the closet exists at all. So many of us have to lie about ourselves in order to keep our communities, friends, and positions.


That's why we have Pride. In June, we don't have to apologize for our existence. We can come together, come out of hiding, and not be afraid.


The only other time we can do that is in queer-designated groups. Gay bars, the few queer churches, and LGBT community groups are all we have.


I want straight folks to understand that Pulse was a safe place. Queers didn't have to hide there. When so many spaces aren't safe, that is precious.


Now, it's not safe there.


I want to create more safe spaces to make up for what we lost, and for what we should have more of to begin with.


I want people to proclaim if they're safe and queer-friendly, without fearing their churches and communities will become suspicious or cold toward them, or that we will somehow turn them gay or religiously gay-accepting. I don't want people to be afraid that if they are kind to us, something good and moral inside of them will be broken.


I want our world to become so safe that we don't need safe spaces. Where closets don't exist. Where people won't turn us away or put strictures on us because we're not straight.


If you want that too (and why wouldn't we all?), bring it up: LGBTQ rights and safety, bullying, and laws that could protect us. Discuss it constantly, in uncomfortable places and with uncomfortable people. Those spaces will never become comfortable and queer-friendly without nudging.


Mourn Orlando because 50 richly complex and unique human beings died, and also mourn because it was the result of hatred. Mourn because queers aren't safe. This unsafe world? This is what creates situations like Orlando. We let popular fear grow without confrontation, and people die.


Let's mourn that. We are allowed to feel things. Then let's change things for the future.







Word count: 973.