Sunday, 12 June 2016
Grief and Pride
I'm sitting here at a keyboard and I know there are so many things I should be doing. I've got a novel to crowdfund and I've got last stage editing to do on it. I've got book reviews to write and a post about vampires that I've been twitching over all week. I have professional things to do, organised things, important things. But every time I try and say something about them, I find my mind is going blank and my hands shaking with something that is maybe grief and is maybe rage and that I hope to all my Gods is not fear.
50 people have been killed. 50 LGBT+ people have been murdered in gay club in Orlando during Pride month. During Pride.
Just typing it is making me cry. They are murdering us during Pride. Because of Pride, because we are living in a world where - if you live openly as queer, or trans, or gay, there are people out there who think your life is worth less. That it deserves to be taken from you. Hell, if you live in the closet but get outed, then there are people who feel your life should be taken from you.
I can't work tonight. I can't bloody think properly tonight. I try, and I find myself thinking of life and love and the way it has been stolen from people just because of who they love. I'm thinking of my own tenuous crawl out of the closet and my trembling little forays into transition and how - suddenly - I'm reminded that it's not just sneering and spitting and ugly names, not just rejection and hostility and friendships cooling off that I need to fear, I'm remembering that there are people out there who want me dead. I'm thinking about what it would take for someone to walk in to a room of people who were laughing, dancing, harming no-one, and to open fire on them.
I'm thinking about how being queer is a constant fight to be seen, to exist, to be acknowledged as valid and real, and not some anomaly that can be legislated out of existence. I'm thinking about how bloody easy it would be to push my binder to the back of my drawer, grow out my hair, and go back into the closet. I'm thinking about never talking about being attracted to women, to non-binary people, as well as men. I'm thinking about how much safer that will make me.
I'm thinking about how that is the exact bloody opposite of what I'm going to do.
And I am furious. Because right now there are queer people, gay people, trans people who are just as paralysed by this as I am, who are watching the evasion, the erasure in the way people are discussing this, watching every person saying 'night-club' and 'terror attack' and never 'gay club' or 'hate crime' as though our community doesn't even deserve the dignity of recognition when we've been gunned down just for daring to exist in the open. Because there are 53 of our people lying in hospital, and still we are told we cannot give blood.
This is the worst terrorist attack the US has seen since 11th September 2001. It is the worst mass shooting they have ever seen, and the BBC is still prioritising the Queen's fucking birthday.
And all these people, all these people who are dead and injured, all these people who have read about it, heard about it, and are crying to themselves and their family right now? They are just as real as you. They have art and writing and music and dreams and loves and careers and families that they should be spending time with, and this gross act of violence has taken that from them. Instead, this one awful act, this blow that was designed to go right to heart of them, has made them victims. It has torn us - all of us - away from our lives, our sense of security, our hope, our ability to live and love and create.
This is terrorism, because its purpose was to terrorise. It was intended to tell the LGBT+ community that we live only on the sufferance of hate-filled people with guns. It was intended to take away the things we can bring to the world, to silence our voices, to prevent our art. It was intended to put us 'back', back to the margins, back to invisibility and fear.
It hits harder because, in our hearts, we know that we have never left those places. That despite all the gains of recent years, we have always been at the mercy of bigotry, of erasure, of the actions of violent people filled with hatred. It hurts more because we exhaust ourselves just being heard, being seen, being recognised - in our lives, in media, in law, in advocacy. It hurts because, just being there,
in a gay club, participating in Pride, can take so much fucking courage and strength and heart-break.
It hits harder because it was intended to hurt this much, to send this exact message: You are not safe. Your lives are not valued.
LGBT+ people reading this: You are valuable. You are beloved. You have something to give in this world, and people who want to see that thing. You are not alone. You will not be broken.
Straight people reading this: Tell the LGBT+ people in your life you love them, you support them. Ask them if there is anything they need, if there is anything you can do that will help them feel safer tonight, and tomorrow, and the next day.
Tell them you stand by us.
Stand by us.
Stand by love.
So, tonight, I weep. And tomorrow, I get up and I fight harder. Tomorrow, I create harder and I live harder and I love harder. Tomorrow, I am more visible, my open, more out. Tonight, I hang the flag at half mast. Tomorrow, I fly it higher than ever.
Love wins. Love has to win.