Something cracked in me this Sunday, after the massacre at Pulse in Orlando. I couldn’t say anything about it for a day, Then I jumped on the social media outrage train. But I didn’t say anything HERE. No blog words about Orlando, or home-grown terrorism, or guns. Nothing about Islamophobia and homophobia (I agree with Morgan Freeman–it’s not really a phobia; it’s just people being assholes.)
I couldn’t think of any words that wouldn’t just blow away in the hurricane of hot air. Many LGBTQ friends have cried out in the last two days, asking “Where are our straight friends?”
Here. I raise my hand.
Here’s what I would say:
I’m sorry. I’m sorry that your safe space was poisoned by that violence. I’m sorry that churches have spewed shit about “Love the sinner, hate the sin” for so long. I’m sorry that you have grown up in the Land of the Free having to watch over your shoulder that you aren’t caught kissing the one you love in public. I’m sorry that people will say “This is an attack on ALL Americans” when the truth is that queer citizens have stood in the front ranks of that attack. I’m sorry that the body count rises. I’m sorry that it’s been your problem to bear. Too often alone.
I am numb with outrage. All I’ve done is make a breathless space for the pain and the outrage yet I have sat still.
Five days ago, it was #RapistBrockTurner that had me outraged. I bet his family was tickled pink at the news from Orlando because it wiped him off the front page. Maybe his mother can finally decorate the new house and his dad can grill steaks. Man, I was pissed about that. But did I do anything?
What were we all talking about five days before the Stanford rape case? The #gorilla? What was his name? Harambe? I didn’t get too worked up in that case but it seemed to be all anyone was talking about online. Poor parents (I’ve been there). Poor gorilla (he didn’t do anything wrong). Poor zookeepers. Poor zoo animals. Poor Harambe.
I was mad about #HB2 in North Carolina. If y’all are so concerned about pedophiles, go watch Dennis Hastert’s house. Hang out in the men’s room where boys haven’t been safe EVER. Can’t we all pee in peace? I was mad about that, but the only thing I did was shop at Target, but I always shop at Target.
If I keep going back five days and five days and five days, through the newsfeed of my outrage, I’ll get to Charleston. I’ll remember that massacre too. I was mad. Heartbroken. Sorry. And I didn’t do anything except bitch about it on the internet.
Well, like I said, this week has been different. I joined Moms Demand Action to join the fight against the chokehold the NRA has on our government. I educated myself about specific, actionable changes, common sense gun laws. I signed petitions to ban the sale of the AR-15 to civilians after seeing an interview with the engineer who designed it. I contacted my representatives. I have started talking to my five year old about guns. “If you ever see a gun, do not touch it. Go find a grownup and tell them.” I looked up how much money each of Georgia’s Congressional representatives have received from the NRA (congratulations to Senator David Perdue on $1.9 MILLION in support).
Yeah, I’m mad right now. And I want to stay mad, even when the next horrible thing comes along, probably in a week at the rate we’re going. I made a vow to myself that I’ll check in every week to see what ACTION I have taken to make sure my silence is never mistaken for consent.
So much of this feeling of silence and helplessness started when I slid into depression around my dad’s final illness and death. I looked up from that darkness and saw my country going mad for a fascist who is nothing but a bullshit artist. I remembered calling some politician a fascist in front of Daddy and he said, “Do you even know what that means?” I answered, “A political idealogue of the far right who uses strict control of the media and a jingoistic sense of nationalism to sway the masses.” He said, “OK…I guess you do.” Daddy was a die-hard conservative. I can’t imagine what he would think of his Grand Old Party today. I haven’t been saying those things in this space but it’s time to reclaim my voice. I have the right and the responsibility to call out bullshit. We are not this.
One reason I didn’t write about some of these issues–politics, LGBTQ rights, rape culture, gorillas–was that I couldn’t BELIEVE it was necessary to say some of these things explicitly. Apparently, it is.
I’ll check on myself in 10 days and see what actions I’ve taken. Y’all are my accountability partners.