Grief is a strange thing. Somehow you feel so many emotions come rushing in at once…and yet time seems to come to a screeching halt. Everything moves in slow motion.
Most people remember exactly where they were on 9/11. In fact, it became a way to talk about the tragedy as a nation processed its grief. The Pulse shootings are like that for me, and probably for a majority of the LGBTQ community, I imagine. I remember where I was, what I was doing, what I was feeling.
The news came through on Twitter early Sunday morning. I woke up randomly at 5 am that day–like I had a feeling something was off. At that point, the reports were just coming in. I remember feeling like I could barely breathe and yet somehow managing to get out of bed that morning and go to church. But the world stopped for me that day. I can only imagine how much worse it was for families of victims and the queer community in Orlando.
You know who helped me process that grief? Others in my queer family who were also grieving. When tragedies affect an entire community, the wounds heal but they leave scars. Long after the media is on the scene, long after the photos of the aftermath show up online, long after they deliberate about why the killer did what he did and whether his religion mattered. The scars stay. You end up a different person than before the trauma.
Having experienced multiple traumatic life events, thanks to PTSD, I’m reliving all the feelings a year later as if it’s happening all over again. See, witnessing traumatic events can do that. Especially if they directly impact you and your community.
Some of you don’t know what this is like. Churches still don’t want to respond…other than to send “thoughts and prayers.” God damn it. You can have your thoughts and prayers. But the LGBTQ community can’t let it go. The families of the victims can’t let it go. The survivors of the shootings can’t let it go.
Because. this. could. happen. again. Nothing has changed to prevent something like this. We’re still fighting. We’re still here. There may have been brief remorse for the treatment of queer folks. But not enough. Not enough for Christian parents to love their queer kids and accept them for who they are.
We’re still out here. And we’re still being killed or destroying ourselves. A way we can honor the victims of the Pulse shooting is to do something. When is this enough for you to do something? We’re out here fighting not just for marriage rights. No. That was one step in a much bigger fight. For the right to exist as we are without getting murdered. For the right to love and be loved without death and assault being the result. For the right to be who we are without fearing for our safety.
Trans women of color fought for us to have the rights we have today. We’re not done fighting.
To the allies:
We keep fighting for more. Because all you allies out there–your ally-ship is shit if you aren’t out there fighting with us. NOTHING’S CHANGED. At least, not for the better. Why do we have to keep waiting until you and your other straight cisgender friends are comfortable with us existing?
I can’t go to protests without having a panic attack. Maybe it would be possible if some of my friends stepped up who CAN protest without panic attacks stood by my side. You want to do something? Link arms with me and protest. Stand up. Resist.
I thought I’d feel overwhelmed by sadness today. I do, but at the moment, it’s all channeled towards anger that shit hasn’t changed. We’re still being murdered and our civil rights are being stripped away little by little under the current administration.
We’re still here.