After the Orlando massacre, there’s no time for silence

Friends embrace outside Pulse

I wasn’t going to write about the Orlando massacre. I’m not from Orlando. Never been to Pulse. As far as I know, no one I know was killed or injured in Orlando yesterday. I’m not gay, bisexual, or trans. I have no fresh perspective or insight. But I’ve been pretty silent lately. Because silence pulls.

It was easy to be an outspoken ally in college. To speak up about university policies affecting the LGBTQ community, follow courses on queer theory, attend meetings of our LGBTQ/Ally campus organization somewhat regularly, and — more regularly — parties and performances by my queer friends.

But out in the big world, it’s not always easy to say things. And nowhere near as satisfying. In fact, it can be easier to bite one’s tongue than move it.

One time, I was so happy to find a sweet mommy friend here that I said nothing when her husband looked at two men holding hands and asserted, “We don’t have such people in our country.” I blushed in shame, but I didn’t say a word.

There have been other failures: moments when I didn’t engage. Not major transgressions, I guess. My friends know I support them. I even publicly express my support, if mostly on Facebook. And still, while reading this essay, I came across the following words and felt a pang of conscience:

I (also) blame all those who stand in silence as LGBTQ people are attacked, abused, murdered, and denied our human rights, because they do not think it is their problem or because they are embarrassed to speak up for us.

I felt a pang of conscience because I realized that, to call myself an ally, I have to be willing to engage.

The LGBTQ community is vast, beautiful, and multifaceted. It’s impossible to generalize. Still, I have noticed that this community seems less likely than most to be satisfied with our “thoughts and prayers” alone.

Hate terrifies. It ends lives, erodes our will, devastates our communities. But hate has no heart, and is therefore a dead thing. I don’t want to let a dead thing silence, muffle, or distort my voice anymore.

Love is the correct response to hate. It’s no platitude. As a mother, as a lover, as a human, I know that it’s our strongest rampart and our sharpest sword. A single kiss can cut hate to the core.

I have no obligation to be polite or pleasant toward views that might feed hateful actions. I don’t want to be silent, because silence colludes with violence. We have many discussions to have in the wake of this tragedy: regarding guns, religion, political rhetoric. But, in our day-to-day, we also need to defend each other, for our family, friends, and neighbors. Matter-of-factly, without hesitation and without embarrassment.

Love remains our source and our strength.

Let’s love harder, louder. Let’s voice our support. Especially when it feels easier to stay quiet. Because hate is everyone’s problem.


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