I do not normally speak in the wake of tragedies. I use whatever strength of signal I have to give voice to others. To those who need it. But I will on this one point speak tonight, and then continue to give voice to others who should be heard before my voice needs to be:

In the wake of people publicly coming out following the massacre in Orlando I have seen several people today, in various venues, suggest that it is inappropriate to do so now. That using this moment to do so belittles the victims.

I respectfully disagree.

We do not divide, but unify, by saying “I, too, am of this number. I, too, am of the greater body of this grief. I mourn with you who have lost children and brothers and sisters; I mourn with you who have lost loved ones.”

This grief is still fresh. This wound still raw. We will all deal with it in different ways in days to come. Some will call it what it is; others will address only the aspects of it they can, or choose to, see. Some will shed tears, others spew venom. We will see victims blamed, and communities tarred because of men whose hearts are filled with hate and who act on it. We are already seeing this. It does not stall; it does not ease. We counter it as best we can, and we continue grieving. Because in that grief, we feel compelled to do what we can to change laws and enact greater safeties. Sometimes we win those fights, sometime we lose. But it is not war; it is survival. It is finding shore while adrift in the midst of an ocean too vast and too deep to truly know but for the crush of its waves and undertow.

And so we grieve. Each of us in our own ways.

We have become used to these tragedies. And that in itself is a tragedy. We feel the weight of this loss, and we experience a different loss:

The loss of voice. The loss of certainty; of knowing where to act or turn.

For this was an act of rage committed against a community. Against gay men and trans women; young people; people of colour. During what is meant to be a time of celebration. In what is meant to be a place of safety. A place of community.

This was an act of hate.

And what is there but to feel loss in the face of so much hate?

The answer is to speak. The answer is to love. The answer is to lead, and teach, and comfort, and offer voice where it is rightful, and silence where it is demanded so that others may speak.

And to those of you who have chosen now to come out — to claim your identity for who you are, and be free in that, or find comfort in finally being able to speak it — in the wake of loss, and use it as balm to the grief you do not know how to slake: know that you are welcome in whatever loose fold this is that we call community in Queer and other nomenclature.

What happened in Orlando was an act of silencing.

Raise up your voices. All of us raise up our voices.

Do not be silenced.

[ETA: Post amended after seeing reporting detailing that it was not just gay men who were at Pulse when the shooting took place, but trans women as well.]

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One Response to Orlando

  1. topoet says:

    I was writing my first response while missing (thanks to TTC) your workshop:
    An American Hero

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