I’m tired. So tired of spending my days drafting up a new post to express my condolences for yet another loss, another senseless act of violence, another injustice. I’m tired of grieving, and yet, I am renewed with reason to do so nearly every month. This hurt feels old and yet I must remind myself that it is still relatively new to me—I have been shielded by my privilege for much longer than many of the transgender, gay, black, Latino, Muslim, or otherwise marginalized people I know. To the friends and families of the Orlando victims, I mourn with you. I hope you are being met with love and compassion, and I hope you are being cared for.
To my friends and the entire LGBT community, I hope you are staying safe and strong. You have my deepest condolences, whatever condolences might still be worth at this point. You deserve more.
I speak plainly to white, heterosexual, cisgendered America—to people like me—and also to those in the aforementioned group who’ve let an agenda become synonymous with their Christian faith: How do we not see this coming, with every new way we conceive to further oppress marginalized groups? How do we never fail to look far beyond ourselves to find blame for tragedies like this, when we’ve not only allowed, but propagated the cultural norms that make bigots, racists, and now terrorists feel justified in their actions? We have been warned and warned and warned. Why are we surprised at the result of accommodating fear and hatred over compassion and support?
Perhaps it is natural to shift blame in one direction in the face of a tragedy. But since when does a tragedy have just one explanation? The shooting in Orlando was, undeniably, a hate crime. It was also a terrorist attack. This particular time, it was carried out by an American man who claimed allegiance to the Islamic State, a known terrorist organization. Even if his actual ties are the subject of much dispute, I don’t wish to ignore that. But it’s wildly irresponsible to use that detail to transfer responsibility to Islam, to all or even most Muslims (especially if you know next to fuck all about Islam).
I feel it’s important, now more than ever, to acknowledge our own complicity in allowing racist, misogynist, homophobic, and transphobic attitudes to pervade our society and influence policy, even if we aren’t people who actively hold those attitudes. In our current political climate, I also feel compelled to point out, as others have, that Pulse was a gay night club that was hosting a “Latino Night” when this terrorist entered its doors and opened fire. Perhaps it is mere coincidence that the man who is our presumptive Republican nominee has run a successful campaign, not in spite of, but because of his racist remarks toward the Hispanic community. Most likely, it is not.
And if this tragedy has only emboldened you to fight for your access to firearms, I no longer know what to say to you. I don’t know how to convince you that 49 people might have gone home safe and happy and untouched that night had it taken you just a few days longer to gain access to your hunks of metal. That we’ve been trying it your way for too long now. That an attack like this might be more preventable if only we understood more about gun violence, but in all likelihood, this will happen a hundred more times and we won’t learn a thing, because Congress still won’t allow the CDC to study gun violence. That this is something we could feasibly change with enough pressure on our lawmakers—that this is how we might finally come to the table with reasonable and effective solutions to treat this public health problem—but that we haven’t thus far, likely because we’re too afraid to risk confirmation that we’ve played a part in our society’s sickness (This is not the only issue we shirk attempts to resolve by refusing to learn more about, by the way. If you haven’t already, read what Ta-Nehisi Coates has to say about reparations).
I am tired. I am angry. I want to mourn. I want to heal. The time for casting stones has passed. I want to be the generation that made an honest effort to fix things. I don’t expect perfection. But, hell. I expect us to try.