This was written by J. I met J when he was a little boy and his family built their home on the lot next to ours. J, along with his brothers and baby sister, would all become fixtures at our house, and my children at theirs…there were many hours of basketball played in our driveway, sleigh riding in the winter…swim team in the summer. I haven’t seen him in many years….but reading what he has written, I couldn’t be prouder if he was my own son…….it’s sad that it needs to be said…and it most definitely needs to be shared.
Typically I use this platform to play this unapologetic, irreverent gay character so everyone can have a good chuckle, and so I can kind of mask any signs of emotion as to avoid signs of weakness. But I want to open up a bit, and if you’re annoyed by all the personal stories today then I suggest stop reading, this is for everyone thats still hurting a bit from yesterday.
After I was able to fully soak in a lot of the news, I got on the phone to call A while he was out of town…this is all still really new and we haven’t had the opportunity to explore each other’s emotional limitations, so I wanted to give him an outlet if necessary. So I gave him the floor and said to tell me how he’s feeling and his exact words were “Scared. All they were doing was living. Nowhere is safe anymore.” I paused for a bit and said “All we can do is live.”
And I’ve been stirring over that advice all night and this morning. I felt like I couldn’t lie and say we’re safe, because I didn’t feel like we were. We never are. In all of our interactions outside of gay bars and centers, we are constantly making risk assessments based on environment and level of interaction. We assess if we can hold hands on this street, if we can kiss in this part of the park, etc. And that risk level is never 0( zero), it can only be minimized because there’s too many unknown factors of potential retaliation of strangers. We’ve all been verbally or physically assaulted based on our actions and we understand that this is all a part of our day to day risk when we choose to be in public.
But the one part about yesterday that is absolutely gut wrenching is that it happened inside a gay venue. A part of the social contract that we agreed upon with straight America is that if we do what we do behind close doors, we would be left alone, unbothered. These venues act as a place to let our hair down and drop the weight of this country’s homophobia off our shoulders and not be scared of who might hurt us. These 50 individuals were playing by the rules. They followed the social contract. They were doing what we were promised would keep us safe. Ultimately they were betrayed and their lives were taken.
This event is hard to stomach. We’ve now lost the last physical location where we felt safe. So this week when you see your LGBTQ brothers and sisters, just hug them. Hold them tight. Kiss them and ask if they’re ok. Let them spill their hearts out. Cry with them. The social contract has officially been terminated and we have no obligation to hide our love for one another anymore. The only obligation we have is to make each other feel safe.
Love Hard, Love Strong, and Love with Pride.