Sunday, June 12, I was at my son’s recital. In between the time we were having breakfast, and getting ready for the show, I read on line that there had been what was being called a bombing, in a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. At the time that I read the story, twenty persons had been known dead. Many more injured. Before we left for the recital that day, I would find out that the list of those that had died was 49, plus the man who committed the act of violence. As many, if not more, seriously injured. It was shocking, and so sad to me.
So, on Monday, when I saw this screen shot to display in support and solidarity on social media, I went ahead and used one of my favorite family photos, also used by my son, to visibly show my support.
But I would like to take a moment to say why I believe that We Are Orlando.
I have many aspects of my identity, and even though self identifying in the LGBTQI alphabet soup is not the only part of my identity, it is an important part. To know that persons that self identify were in that building, probably scared to know that they were about to be killed, it sends a chill through me. I feel connected to them somehow.
I say We Are Orlando, because I have spent many years of my adult life, in nightclubs and bars, that were safe havens when I was coming out. It didn’t always feel safe to be myself in the world, and clubs were often my refuge, my cloistered existence away from the rest of the world. And, there were always many friends there with me.
I say We Are Orlando, because I have been there four times in my life, and loved the city. It was often associated for me with wonder, childlike innocence, and play. I feel like some of that innocence feels less presence for me, yet I want to support a city that may take some time finding its footing again.
I say We Are Orlando, because even though it wasn’t just self identified LGBTQI persons that died that day, for those that are, it was their worst fears being realized. So many days and nights, I have stood in my being openly with others, yet also been scared that I would be harmed in someway for being that self, by someone that didn’t understand. I am more frightened for my safety, and for the safety of those that I love, than I was on June 11.
I say We Are Orlando, because we keep killing each other as human beings. Even though there is nothing that I could have done to prevent this from happening, I feel compelled to do my part, to shine my own light of peace and love into the world. And, I think that we all need to do the same for things to change. Things won’t change just with gun restrictions, or condemning an organized religion, or in retaliating, with words or with actions, in the same way that our community, our LGBTQI, Latino/Latina, and HUMAN community was assaulted.
Each one of us needs to hold our own accountability; to be kind in a world that doesn’t want to be kind all of the time. Each one of us needs to see that we are not victims, but rather, persons that are here with an opportunity to shine in the world. We each need to understand the impact of our words and our actions, and choose accordingly. I am the only one that can change it. You are the only one that can change it. Each of us needs to do our part.
Because we are ALL Orlando.