The Orlando massacre has hit me hard. Maybe it's because over the past year I've become more and more involved in the LGBTQ+ community.
I'm going to rant a bit here, and at NO POINT would I EVER discount the support from my friends that I had while I transitioned. I know that you were all (and still are) there for me, and that won't change.
However, I didn't do this with the help of other trans* persons. I didn't do this with a solid LGBTQ+ community at my back. I went to Pride For Youth once when I was probably 12 or 13 and never went back. At that time in my life, I was made to believe that what I was feeling was wrong, and I was going to hell for it - and I believed that enough to be afraid of what I knew to be true - I was attracted to women. I didn't have anyone that I could call at night when I was 11 years old and ready to end my own life. I had no friend that would walk across town for me to tell me it was going to be okay. I was alone. It was just me and my thoughts - which were never in my favor.
Most of my family was using drugs and alcohol for my entire life, my Mom (although not using drugs or booze) was working nights and told me that being suicidal was a part of growing up. So I dealt with it, because that's what I thought I was supposed to do. That everyone goes through it, and wants to end it, so I just have to toughen up and deal, right? So I did. I dealt. I've been dealing with it since I was 8 years old. I cleaned up beer cans, and bottles, and spilled munchies, and dog vomit because they wouldn't stop blowing pot smoke up his nose and giving him beer. I dealt with it when I was raped at 14, I dealt with it when 6 people from high school and my cousin all passed away when I was 17, and I dealt with it when my brother was found dead of a heroin overdose when I was 21.
I'm still dealing with shit, we all deal with shit, but now I'm part of something bigger than me, and I've gotten so involved in this community that now I know what it's like to feel loved by people I barely know. To catch eyes with someone across the room and feel like I know them, and we're already friends, already family. To hear parents pour their hearts out about how afraid they are for their LGBTQ+ child or children, or even other children. To see people blindly support each other no matter what, and have each other's backs, and hug and cry with strangers. This community is so beyond amazing that now I cannot imagine my life without it, and if anything I just want more of it. I can't get enough. They are some of the strongest, and most loving people I have ever met in my entire life - and they truly inspire everyone to just love each other. It sounds so gushy and sappy and I felt that way too, but it's so true.
We went to a vigil on Monday night for the victims of Orlando that was held at Pride for Youth. A lot of people went up and spoke, and it was amazing to feel all of the love and support in the room, and have some people who had never even come out to their families or friends but felt so strongly that they needed to be at this vigil.... some people even came out on stage as they spoke - it was so powerful. We spoke about how we feel, fear and anger taking up a lot of the conversation. Thankfully, however, the main point was love.
Honestly, I am angry, and scared, but mostly I'm just sad. I'm sad that this is the world that we live in. And that it takes the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. History for people to wake up and see that this is a problem. That people of the LGBTQ+ community worry about safety every single day.
You're worried about bathrooms? We're worried about walking down the street, going out to lunch, shopping in stores, things that other people take for granted EVERY SINGLE DAY. So let's not pretend this is something that it isn't. This is ignorance and hatred. It's fucking disgusting, and absolutely heartbreaking.
But we have to rise above the hatred, and help each other through this with support - and of course, with love.
I'll leave you with a quote:
"The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral,
begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy.
Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it.
Through violence you may murder the liar,
but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth.
Through violence you may murder the hater,
but you do not murder hate.
In fact, violence merely increases hate.
So it goes.
Returning violence for violence multiplies violence,
adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness:
only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that."
-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.