What The Orlando Shooting Means To Me As A Queer Teen
On Sunday night, I couldn’t cry. I didn’t know how to — it was as if every resource I had to deal with deep, inescapable grief had been disabled. I felt short-circuited, wired and rewired out of my current plane of existence.
On Monday, I started breaking down.
A part of me feels like I’m infringing upon other people’s story. I’m not from Orlando and didn’t lose anyone, so I can’t possibly understand what my Orlando counterparts, those who are and did, are going through. And yet on Monday, I began to feel the grief someone feels when they lose a loved one: the void of anger and anguish and the thick fog of confusion. This complex entanglement of emotions weaved together, like vines climbing and suffocating a wall, and spelled out an angry, black "WHY DID THIS HAPPEN?"
Last night, in a bad headspace, I texted a close friend about a vigil my city will hold today.
"I want to cry tomorrow," I texted. "I want to be visceral and raw and I want to let out everything I can’t express.”
Tonight, I want to light candles and cry and, most of all, think. I want to feel the serenity and solidarity a vigil promises, because only then will I be able to get past the triggers I’ve been battling since this happened. Because for the past two days, I’ve been terrified. I’ve been out of the closet for two years, and I’ve never been more scared and angry about my position and the position of my counterparts, my siblings-in-metaphysical-arms: the LGBT+ community. I’m angry because 49 deaths are being depoliticized: 49 gay people were killed in a gay safe space, yet are not being acknowledged as collective victims of a hate crime.
We have never been fully integrated into our society. Our love was declared valid in the eyes of the law only last year and our rights are still being devalued and debated across Congress floors. And only now, when 49 people are dead, are our supposed allies coming out in full force to declare that "we have all been attacked." We need this widespread, vocal solidarity before acts of violence occur.
I’ve been struggling to encompass the emotions I’ve had into words. I’m confused, angry, hurting, and frustrated at the whole world. And I’m still trying to navigate the desperate unfairness of it all.
At the end of the day, 49 people are dead. At the end of the day, the largest mass shooting in US history was a hate crime, an open declaration of hatred against who I am and who I want to be — open, free, and in love.
And that’s why, on Monday, I started breaking down.
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