When I was 20, I went to the Millennium March. I’m from a small town, a red part of a blue state, and I had never been around so many gay people before—tens of thousands of them, marching proudly.
And, of course, on the sidelines were protesters. They had printed signs telling us we were going to hell. I think some were from the Westboro Baptist Church, but they were by no means the only protesters there.
I was furious. They had most of the country EVERY DAMN DAY. Could we not have this tiny route on this one day without people insulting us? Do they have to shout us down all the time?
Sixteen years later, things are a million times better. We can get married anywhere in the country. In most states, we can be out without fear for our jobs or homes (provided we’re an adult; gay teens can still get kicked out, obviously). We can adopt children (in some states). Most places, we’re treated just the same as everyone else.
Early this morning, as you surely know, a gunman opened fire in a gay club, killing 50 and wounding 53 more. The death toll is expected to rise, because most of those injured are in critical condition. Seven of the victims have been identified. Most are in their early 20s. The oldest is my age, 36.
I’m not babysitting anyone else’s feelings today. 103 people were shot for being in a gay nightclub. They were shot by a man who pledged allegiance to ISIS; it easily could’ve been someone who says he was working on God’s behalf. The fact that the gunman is Muslim has become the headline, which is convenient for the Republican politicians because now they can come out against it without really talking about the victims. You know, the people they don’t want to be able to get married or adopt children or even be protected from getting fired for being gay.
Which brings me to this: if you support “religious freedom,” which is an excuse to discriminate against me (firing me, not renting/selling me a home, not letting me get married at City Hall like anyone else), frankly no, I do not want you to weep with me although I do appreciate your sorrow once it steps past discrimination and into murder.
If you blame Muslims for this, I do not have time for you. My Muslim friends have been far more vocal in slamming this than my Christian friends have. (Although yes, many Christian friends have, too. Please don’t #NotAllChristians me today. I am not taking care of your feelings right now.)
I am furious. My hands are literally shaking and I am heartbroken. I don’t need everyone to post something about this, but maybe don’t ask me for anything while I am trying to process the fact that 50 people are dead for being gay, or for being someplace where it could be safely presumed that they are gay. I get that it doesn’t affect you in the same way, but for love of God, consider the time.
And I’m remembered of being 20 years old and just wondering why we can’t have our safe places without people who oppose us feeling they have the right to barge in.
That’s privilege, isn’t it. Your feelings matter more because you’re the majority.
If you want to know how to be an ally, stand up and say something. It doesn’t have to be pro-gun control. (Bonus points if it is, because I am out of patience for anyone who defends your right to own an AR-15 and again, babysitting no one’s feelings right now.) But just a simple acknowledgment would be nice.