As Latin beats filled Pulse night club in Orlando, Florida, on Sunday morning before the club goers were done dancing, Omar Mateen had more nefarious plans. He must have heard the people inside the "Gay Club," loving life, dancing, and living out loud. Moments before he entered the club and savagely massacred 49 people, injuring 53 more, he must have heard the music... and he didn’t care.
The nation woke up to the news. A new record. The worst mass shooting in America, the worst terrorist attack since 9/11, had occurred while we slept, or while we partied in our cities own gay clubs. The gay community awoke to the news that we now hold the title for the worst act of violence toward humans since Sept. 11th 2001. As if the gay community didn’t have enough on its plate, with being a pawn in this year's election, to fighting for basic human rights, and protecting ourselves from the ignorance and hate of others. We now have to come to terms with the fact that we hold this disgusting title.
Whatever the motivations be for the shooter, whether it be religious extremist beliefs, or simply because he hates gays, and the community surrounding, weather he pledged his life to ISIS or not...we as a nation are extremely comfortable accepting that this is the worst mass shooting of all time.The motivation behind the shooter is not the most important thing. The need to not be comfortable with this fact, is. We’ve become desensitized to death, the loss of life. We are comfortable using words like ‘mass shooting’ and ‘ ISIS Extremist”. We are so comfortable, in fact, that this is how we communicate to each other our fears, hopes and dreams. We use words that should not be involved in our day to day communications, because living like this is normal, now.
On Friday June 10th, American Singer Christina Grimmie was shot down as she was signing autographs for fans she acquired through her YouTube page, and her appearance on “The Voice,” also in Orlando. She was 22 years old. Two Days before the Pulse Nightclub Massacre.
The nation, hopefully, has had enough. As my wife held me as I cried over the loss of life, the loss of life from the members of our community, our son watched. We have yet to find the words to explain to him what this means. He is living in a world and a community that is not safe. We do not want words like “massacre” to become commonplace in his life.
Some will say this sets the gay community back to before Stonewall. I disagree. This will help propel the gay community to stand stronger, stand more united than ever before.
As we gear up in Rhode Island to celebrate our own Pride, we must not let fear triumph over love. We must come together and celebrate the strides we have made and the love that we do have.
Is this, the outpour of sympathy and the united front we are trying to uphold... is this too little, too late? After the first gun violence death ever to happen, in America, was it too little too late then? Is this going to be the time, the event that happened to finally shine light on the out of control gun problem we have in this country? Will it shine light on the crippling, failed mental health care system in this country? Will any of it matter? There are thousands of people dead, in this country, from gun violence. Something's gotta give. I’d like to think our efforts to protect one another and the strides we’ve made in the gay community and with mental health care, is not for not.
One thing is clear. We are not doing enough to protect ourselves and the people we love. We can stand united and love each other. That’s a start. We need to get to the root of the problem, and stop it where it stands.
Love each other.
The only alternative is to cease to survive.
If you’d like to show unity and love, there will be Vigils in Our City of Providence:
6/13/16- The Dark Lady, 8pm
6/14/16- Roger Williams Memorial, 6pm.