As the dust settles and people go on with their daily lives, periodically reposting an inspiring meme on social media or talking about their feelings with a friend, I can’t help but observe that even though our lives keep going, there are at least 49 that will not (I am not counting the assaulter in this number). 49 people who went to a bar–just like I’ve done so many nights–for a fun evening, who never thought it would be the place they had their last conversation, their last drink, their last laugh. It is shocking and horrifying and an obvious terrorist attack on a community, and my heart breaks.
As the dust settles and people go on with their daily lives, their voices become louder with opinions and “facts”. Did you know that if we all carried assault rifles, this tragedy would have never happened? Did you know that if we banned all Muslims from entering the country, that none of this would have ever happened? Did you know that if we elect Trump as President, we will never have to worry about this happening again? Neither did I, but apparently so many of my Facebook friends are experts in gun control, Islam, and political science. They may also be experts in disregarding study after study regarding the necessity of gun control in this country, blatant xenophobia, and ignorance.
As the dust settles and people go on with their daily lives, I can’t help but be furious that the same Facebook friends, congressmen, state officials, and other political figures who time & time again vote against LGBTQ+ rights are offering their “prayers” and “can’t believe this happened”. That–to be frank–is a whole bunch of shit. Continuously marginalizing, dehumanizing, and desensitizing a country against a community of people through political action creates the status quo that treating LGBTQ+ groups as “the others” is totally okay. And then when a horrific, inhumane act is committed against them, you gasp and clutch your pearls? Give me a fucking break. If it takes something so tragic to wake you up to realize this community is in fact composed of people, not monsters you have damned for years, then what does that mean for our country? That we need the worst thing possible to wake you up? That breaks my heart, too.
As the dust settles and people go on with their daily lives, we’ll start talking about what happened in Orlando less and less. It won’t be on the forefront of our minds. We’ll move on to the next massacre (because until gun laws change, inevitably there will be another) or the next Karadashian headline, and the pain an entire nation endured will be filed away in-between heartbreaks with titles like “Where were you on 9/11?” and “How To Explain to Non-Americans How Trump Became the Republican Presidential Candidate”. And while life will–and should–carry on, what I hope stays with everyone is the knowledge that this should have never happened. From the legal purchase of an assault rifle, to the targeting of a minority group, to the execution of at least 49 unique, valued lives…none of it should have happened. And if we can carry the knowledge that we can do better, then maybe soon we can and will do better.
Until then, be patient as the dust settles. Hug someone you love. Call a friend. Go out and celebrate life. Honor the victims. And if you need someone to listen, I’m here for you.
If you feel called to help the survivors and families of the victims of the Orlando shooting, check out this great article on ways to help. If you would like to speak with a certified counselor about the shooting–or anything at all, really–check out these resources here. Love.