Let’s put aside gun control and Islamic extremists for a second. I’m not going to talk about those things because right now I don’t care about them. Right now I care about people. Human beings. Not policies or all the shit we cannot fucking agree on to save (literally) our lives. I want to talk about people.
I am not a lesbian. (At least not actively. But don’t completely count me out.) I am a heterosexual woman in a heterosexual relationship with a heterosexual man. And you know what? It doesn’t fucking matter. It doesn’t matter that it wasn’t 50 heterosexuals who were shot on Saturday. Because it was 50 people. 50 human beings. Each one of those people was the center of a small galaxy. They have mothers and brothers and fathers and partners and jobs. They were alive and that put them on an equal playing field with me and everyone else.
I overheard a woman at the Y talking about the shooting. That’s how I found out. I heard “shooting” and “Orlando” and immediately Googled it to find out what she was talking about. I was stunned. I was hurt. I felt physical pain– a tightening of my face and chest that made it hard to breathe. A vibrant, happy place filled with men and women seeking solidarity and joy amongst friends and comrades became a slaughter house. And then I was flooded with the names and faces of my gay friends, people I consider as close as family, closer than my blood siblings. Zach. Matt. Matt. Matt. (So many gay Matts…) Marc. Ana Maria. Dylan. Abby. Phillip. Tim. Brian. Brad. Mark. David. Frank. Lizz. Erin. Jason. Carly. Seana. And on and on. I thought of their children, so many of whom go to school with my son. I imagined their lives and their loved ones and the unbearable, unfathomable pain that would rip through my tiny corner of the world if even one of them was a victim of this kind of violence. Then I imagined it happening to 50 them at once. Because maybe they went to the same birthday celebration. Or had marked Latin Night in their calendars months before.
And then I imagined our children. Sitting at the Y, watching little kids cannonball into the water, I imagined their futures. I imagined many of them being brave enough to come out. Brave enough to face cruelty and uncertainty for the hope of a truer, happier existence. I imagined my own tiny son. Because he too may be gay. He too may one day go dance Salsa on a Saturday night with his friends. I tried to fathom the grief of those parents, friends, and families. And I couldn’t. Because that pain is too big. That pain is impossible to comprehend.
And I still won’t talk about policy. I won’t talk about guns or Islamic extremists. I won’t talk about the mental health crisis eating its way through our society. I won’t talk about the homophobia, the racism, the shaming, or the bigotry. Because I shouldn’t have to. Because this is about people. And that should be enough. Whatever the root, whatever the cause, we should be united on every front to find a solution. We have to come to a common understanding about the value of human life. Above hate, above extremism, even above fucking gorillas.
Every human life is worth preserving. Every child deserves a chance. Hate is not a cancer. Hate is a choice. No disagreement should end with with a bullet. No difference should result in a massacre. There is no tyranny greater than our own apathy, our indifference to the lives and struggles of our neighbors. Peace is not easy. Love is not without its obstacles. But no individual party, person, or policy, can dictate the outcome. We cannot continue to do nothing because it will not do everything.
We have created this world. We have allowed these deaths. We have enabled these causes.
And it’s time to do something about it.