Last week everything was different. Last week I was a one-woman-show crying for my own pain and no one else. This week my body is enmeshed in the pain of the brothers and sisters who were attacked, silenced, and defiled. Our sadness is valid and our anger is righteous. The sun streams into the room as the curtains flitter from the soft flow of humming air that comes from the fan next to my face. I groggily open my eyes and see Justin standing on the other side of the bed “there was a mass shooting last night. Fifty people are dead. It was at a gay club.” His face is heavy and solemn. It takes me a few minutes to register what he just told me as I lie in bed, struggling to move my body.
A gay club.. We were just talking about going to pride this weekend, both of us queer club-rats. I slowly walk down the stairs and sit on the couch. We watch the news together and listen as the facts roll in. the body count is fluctuating, the news is refusing to call this massacre a hate crime, our blood pressure rising as they continue spinning their islamophobic news narrative.
“Love is Love!” I see this status posted by a girl I went to high-school with who used to hook up with the guys who called me a fag. “We are all one!” I see this status right underneath the love is love status, posted by a middle aged housewife I’m friends with on facebook.. Is she a family friend? I can’t remember. But I do remember that just last week she posted an article about HB-2, the bill that would prohibit me from using the women’s bathroom if I decided to go to North Carolina. She included a little blurb which read “I can see both sides to this debate!”
These are the people who want to be called allies. You know what I’m talking about. The people who gave themselves a rainbow filtered facebook photo and posted an arbitrary prayers for orlando status. The People who have a gay cousin, or uncle, or kid in their school who sat behind them in one class three years ago. They come to pride with their boyfriends and families; snapping pictures of drag queens or searching for a GBF, laughing at their boyfriend as he hurls one slur after another after another “did you see that faggot try to touch me? What the fuck” he drunkenly screams as he smokes his cigarette outside of the dark lady, a rainbow flag flying above his head. His girlfriend says “he isn’t a homophobe though.. He’s just drunk”
“It wasn’t a hate crime, it could have happened anywhere”.
But it didn’t. It didn’t happen anywhere. It happened in our safe space, a space where my body is at home and goes unchecked and un-clocked. A space which is all-too-imperfect, full of our own slurs and our divisions and our own issues; still, a space that is our own built by us for us.
Just a week ago, I was dancing on the dimly lit dance floor of the dark lady as other happy queers jumped up and down next to me, my skin gleaming with sweat as I laughed into the face of my best friend. My first time in a gay club in my hometown since I’ve transitioned, I feel like the out-of-place older sister as I dance around and laugh with the gay men who grab my ass and scream “yes queen” into my face. Imperfect, but still our own space. A week later I’m back on that same dimly lit dance floor. I’m not dancing though and my skin isn’t gleaming with sweat. There is no laughter. I anxiously wait for the bartender to give me my drink and I find myself pacing around the dance floor. “Ok there’s an exit over there.. But it would be too easy for someone to come in through that entrance over there.. I guess I could duck over there but then what about that window over there?” I’m having a conversation in my head, tipsily trying to figure out my survival plan.
Hot wax drips down my hand as the mayor commends us for our bravery as we cry together under a shroud of candle-light. I don’t feel brave. I don’t feel strong. I am scared. I am angry. Stop asking us to stay safe. Stop calling us brave. Make this world safe for us. Do better.