Where do we go from here?
I’ve spent most of Sunday trying to put the words together to try and say something helpful about this, the loss of 49 of my LGBTQIA sisters, brothers, and siblings, and the injury and suffering of at least 53 more.
I’ve seen people posting that this came as hardly even a surprise, that it was one more day, one more mass shooting. I’ve seen people ready to give up on 2016, a year with 133 mass shootings in 164 days. I’ve seen people ready to give up, period.
And you know what? Fuck that.
Pulse was a place where we were supposed to be able to go and be free to be ourselves. So was Stonewall. But this time, 47 years after the Stonewall Riots, it wasn’t the police we were fighting -- instead, it was police who brought down the murderer.
I don’t say this to minimize the suffering and loss in Orlando. I don’t say this to minimize the hatred that lead to this attack, or the systemic problems we face and will continue to face. I say this to help us remember that change is possible. We have come a long way from a period when we could be arrested for dancing together, or for wearing the “wrong” clothes. Change has happened. Not because “it gets better”, but because people kept fighting even when it seemed impossible.
I say this to remind us of the power we still hold.
I’ve never been one for “thoughts and prayers”. Though often they feel like the best thing we can offer, too often we see them come from insincerity - perhaps you’ve already seen the posts collecting tweets of “thoughts and prayers for Orlando” from politicians who stand against equal rights for LGBTQIA people, who feign care only when it’s socially required, when they can erase who we are and why we were attacked.
I understand the impulse to thoughts and prayers, I don’t live in Orlando, I can’t donate blood or comfort the survivors. There’s nothing I can punch, no race I can run to fix this.
Here’s what I have to offer instead.
I offer a promise. A promise that that I will never stop fighting for us. With words, with advocacy, and importantly, with my ballot. I’ll keep fighting, for those of us who can’t anymore, and for those of us for whom finding a way to stay alive and love who they are is fighting.
We’ve created tremendous change in the past. We have that power now, right now, to keep making change.
Please, take care of yourselves. Mourn as you need to. This day and this week in particular, surviving is fighting. If you need to rest, get offline, binge watch cartoons and cry into some ice cream - do it. Do what you need to do to be safe, that’s what I ask, first and foremost.
But if you’re angry, when you need something to do - let’s get it done. I’ve already emailed my Senators and my Representative, and I recommend that you do too - https://medium.com/…/it-s-on-us-too-an-easy-guide-to-contac…this makes it easy. Use the form letter if you want, add what you need, write your own letter - tell them how angry, how saddened you are that 50 of our brothers and sisters are dead, that we can’t stand for this, that it’s long past time for change.
Those politicians offering hollow words? The ones who offer sympathy after they’ve thrown us under the bus countless times with their words and laws? Vote the fuckers out. Register to vote now if you haven’t,https://vote.usa.gov/ . Let’s mobilize NOW to put politicians in office who have proven they will protect us, will fight for our rights, proven that will stand up against laws that allowed this man to buy and carry a fucking assault rifle and murder 50 people. Can you phone bank? Can you stuff envelopes? Can you go door to door? Can you help register your friends to vote, and get them to the polls? Can you help raise awareness, help mobilize people on facebook and twitter? Let’s do it.
Let’s make no mistake: this is political. This became political the moment the shooter bought this assault rifle - ASSAULT RIFLE - legally, without a background check. This was political when the shooter chose to target us in one of our places of safety, on Latin night, on a night headlined by Latinx trans women. This was political when the shooter’s hatred came on the heels of the same hatred and fear from many of our politicians and our laws, seeking to make us unsafe and deny us equality.
Let’s not forget about this. Let’s not let this be another moment of “Never again” that passes too quickly. Let’s remember this in November and beyond.
The power is ours now. Let’s never stop fighting.