In the wake of the Orlando shooting, the Muslim community is once again bracing themselves for the hateful backlash they will undoubtedly receive for their nonexistent affiliation with Daesh (also known as ISIS, but I don’t call them that). The queer community is struck with silence in this time of mourning for the forty-nine lost from the kinship they’d formed.
Just to let you all know, I’m queer (well, bisexual and genderfluid), and that automatically makes me (as well as anybody else in the community) a potential target for hate and violence. Some of the people reading this may not have known that I’m queer; some may have suspected at one point or another. Either way, it’s kind of important for all of you to know this, so the rest of this doesn’t sound like it’s coming from some random cishet person (no offense to cisgendered, heterosexual folk) and my credibility to speak on the topic is somehow lost.
Early Sunday morning, while I had just started eating breakfast, my father told me that I should “be careful what I post” on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc. Confused, I asked, “Why?” to which he replied, “You didn’t hear?” I automatically knew what he was talking about.
The Pulse shooting is the deadliest massacre in U.S. history, and it directly targeted the LGBT+ community. It is no coincidence that the assailant chose a gay bar, and it’s vital that we don’t erase this important piece of information. Now, conservatives are using the massacre to lecture our community and Donald Trump is accepting congratulations on being right and Christians are blaming Muslims for this tragedy despite being one of the first to kick their kids out and make them hate themselves and tell them their love is a sin.
Yesterday, a man in Santa Monica with assault rifles and explosives was stopped and arrested. He said he was headed for L.A. Pride. Just after the deadliest massacre in U.S. history, a man was all but ready to wreak havoc on one of the biggest pride parades in California.
These two events, put together, are instilling fear within the LGBT+ community. We have always lived in fear, as a whole. We fear coming out to our religious families because of the possibility of being kicked out or disowned. We fear telling our friends because of the possibility of rumors and isolation, of discomfort in the locker rooms and harassment in the hallways. Because of the possibility that we might be killed, because we’re told we’re going to hell, because God hates us, because we will end up hating ourselves, we fear being who we truly are.
Here’s the thing: we should not be afraid.
Straight people (in general) don’t live in fear of being killed or kicked out or disowned or beat up or isolated on a day-to-day basis. So why should we? Why should we cower back in fear at the face of evil? Why should we retreat and silence our voices at a time they most need to be heard?
It is crucial for us to stand firm where we are in the wake of this tragedy. We must make our voices loud and clear for the entire world to hear. We must let the people know. We will not be silenced. We will not be controlled by our fear. We will not let the actions of a coward define what we do.
Our community, as a whole, has become a safe space for so many, a place to find acceptance and warmth when such can be found nowhere else. After this tragedy, we open our arms wide to the survivors and the loved ones of the victims, and we bow our heads in prayer for those we lost.
And to my dad (Hi, Dad.): I’m not going to be more careful about what I post. I’m not going to pretend I am not an active member of this community. I’m not going to turn my back on people who need me, in one way or another. I will continue to show my support for the LGBT+ community and advocate for their rights, especially at such a sad time. I will not be afraid to go to a pride parade, though I know you will worry like you always do. I will not deny who I am, even if it denies me the promise of safety.
I refuse to be forced into hiding by the actions of one man. My voice, and the voice of the LGBT+ community, will not be silenced.