In the Face of Terror

So often, when something terrible happens, my first instinct is to retreat. I want to limit the amount of detail I have to absorb. I don’t want to see the horrible things horrible people say about it. I certainly don’t want to talk about it. It’s a combination of being an introvert and (perhaps too) sensitive.

After a little while, though, and like everyone else, I start to process. I feel all the usual things–anger, sadness, hopelessness, resolve. And then I try to make sense of it in words. No surprise there.

After the horrific shooting in Orlando yesterday, talk in my household went to the idea that, with things like marriage equality and a President who vocally supports the LGBTQ community, we’ve been lulled into a certain feeling of security. Yet, even in that security, we never completely forget that we are different and, often, not safe. Whether we don’t correct the woman at the nail salon who asks about our boyfriend or we discuss before going to a wedding whether it will be okay for us to slow dance together, being gay is still a dangerous existence. The gratitude we feel for being able to marry who we love, the acknowledgment that we have it so much better than those who came before us–those things cannot overshadow the facts of bigotry, hatred, and violence.

In spite of that, or perhaps because of it, we remain resolved. As my partner eloquently noted, we will still go to the clubs. We will still celebrate Pride. We will still show up. We’re hardy. We’re hopeful.

At the same time, we must act. We must continue to work beyond reassuring statements; we must move beyond thoughts and prayers. So I’m going to say it:

If you have a problem with two men kissing in public, you are part of the problem.

If you think people should have easy, legal access to assault rifles, you don’t get to offer thoughts and prayers. You, too, are part of the problem.

If you believe that violence perpetrated by an evil person justifies bigotry in another form–or if you support a presidential candidate who does–you’re making matters worse, not better. You. Are. Part. Of. The. Problem.

I said a while back that sometimes we can’t just agree to disagree, that the stakes were too high. It’s true. The stakes are too high. And while I refuse to battle hate with hate, I’m done with free passes. I’m done ignoring political differences so that we can all just get along. Because we can’t. Lives are on the line.