A Time to Stand Together

Because the shooting in Orlando happened in the middle of the night, and because of how fast news spreads these days, most people in the United States found out about it first thing upon waking. An RCer pointed out to me that in these times we usually learn about tragedies from the Internet and are often alone when we hear about them. This was less true in the past, when people usually learned about bad news from a person.

One of my friends posted on Facebook, “Straight allies—you need to know that every Queer person you know is not okay right now.” If my friends, my newsfeed, and I are any indication, that is true.

Gay oppression, like sexism, has been minimized in this country and in the current period. Gay teens are five times more likely than straight teens to commit suicide and make up forty percent of homeless youth. It only became illegal last year, on the federal level, to be fired for being Gay, and many courts still aren’t sure how to “interpret” this new law. Still, my generation (I’m thirty-one) has been told that Gay oppression is over, especially now that Gay marriage is legal. This very visible and violent attack reminds us that it is not. I think this is a time for straight allies to get in close with LGBTQ people and let us know that you stand with us against Gay oppression.

Today I spent a lot of my day glued to Facebook and the news. I reached out to a few people for mini-sessions but couldn’t find anyone. I was able to cry while listening to some music by a Queer singer, which gave me the attention to call a friend. She and I decided to go to a vigil, along with her girlfriend and two other friends. When we arrived, I learned that the vigil had been organized by a Queer RCer.

It was a million times better to be with other people than to be alone in my room, glued to the Internet. We listened to a young adult Latino man who had previously lived in Orlando and worked as a DJ at Pulse (the club where the shooting took place). Several of his friends were missing or confirmed dead. We learned that a Queer African-heritage woman we knew who had worked in the campus center at our college had been bartending at Pulse the night of the shooting and that her status had not been confirmed. (I found out while writing this post that her name was added to the list of people confirmed killed.)

One strength of the LGBTQ community is how well connected we are to each other around the country and the world. I don’t think my friends and I are unique in being Queers who live far away from the shooting but are only a few people removed from the casualties.

It is a struggle to remain un-numb. I would love to hear what others have figured out about getting discharge and holding perspective. For me, hearing from other LGBTQ people who are grieving has been so helpful. Hearing from straight allies has been helpful, too. My mom e-mailed me that she was going to a vigil, and that made me cry. A Queer woman in a Facebook group for women in my profession posted that she was having a really hard time and wanted to know if other Queer women in the group were feeling similar. Several of us posted that we were, and several straight people posted that they were thinking of us and loving us and crying with us and that it was okay that we were not okay. That made me cry too.

Today I looked back in my e-mails to find RC responses to other recent tragedies—the Charleston shooting, the Boston marathon bombing, the Paris attacks. It was hopeful to read about people fighting to keep thinking in the face of a society that is collapsing in an increasingly obvious way. We get to remember that people are good, that we always get to stand up against oppression, and that our actions make a difference.

“Taylor Swift”

Massachusetts, USA

Reprinted from the RC e-mail discussion list for leaders of women

(Present Time 184, July 2016)

Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00