Like many people around the world, we spent much of the weekend in a daze of sorrow and bewilderment at the events in Orlando. Another mass shooting. Another list of innocent victims of hatred.
I grow tired of listening to the talking heads on television speculating about the event. I don’t want to read any more stories about the ignorant “they deserved it” posts being put out there. I don’t even want to read any more angry posts by members of the LGBT community.
I get it. I understand the anger, but did we really think this would never happen? I’ve been expecting something like this every June for the past few years, except I thought it would happen Boston-style at a Pride parade because they’re so much harder to provide security for. We know that radicals – be they Christian or Muslim – find us an abomination, but this shooter apparently wasn’t even motivated by religious fervor, just his hatred.
On Sunday evening as everyone was still absorbing the reality of what had happened, I was walking my dog and we went down Stonewall Avenue – a tiny, quiet street in my town, but the irony struck me.
People in the LGBT community feel targeted by the hatred behind this attack. They are taking this personally. And it is personal. Hatred always is when you are its target.
But my brother-in-law is from Belgium, and his mother and sister were in that very concourse of the Brussels airport just a couple of days before it was bombed, and I can tell you they felt it personally. People in Boston took it very personally when the marathon was bombed. Parisians also took it personally when their city was the site of violent hatred.
There are so many people spouting off about this solution or that solution to this ongoing epidemic. Everyone is scrutinizing the shooter’s past and wondering why this couldn’t have been prevented. I have no answers except to say that, no matter how we look at this incident in hindsight, we are not (yet) a nation that jails people for being angry or weird or mentally ill. We don’t charge people with crimes they might commit, short of having a cache of weapons and an actual plan in place. That gives law enforcement a very narrow window in which to charge someone with a crime ahead of actually committing it.
There are, of course, renewed calls for gun control. One of the saddest news stories I saw was that the trading stock in two arms manufacturing companies jumped almost ten percent in anticipation of another run on gun sales due to fears of gun control legislation. Gun control is a monster of huge proportions in the United States, and the fact that the shooter legally purchased weapons is another issue that we as a nation will have to struggle with.
I have no answers except to say that hate will find a way.
It may sound fatalistic to put it that way, but I believe it’s true. If someone wants to do something bad, they will find a way to do it. The terrorists in Boston didn’t need guns (not for their main attack) – they used pressure cookers for crying out loud. Timothy McVeigh didn’t need guns in Oklahoma City. The Paris terrorists used guns and bombs, while those in Brussels blew themselves up.
What makes us a bit different from other targets of an attack like this is that so many LGBT people have been attacked before, maybe not in such numbers or quite so violently, but most of us have experienced hatred.
When someone hates that much, they will find a way. But every time hate finds a way, so will we – all of us who don’t carry that kind of hatred around inside us.
Like the people who carried friends and strangers to safety while bullets were flying around them. Like those who used their bodies to apply pressure to bleeding wounds to prevent someone from bleeding out. Like those who stood in line for hours to donate blood, and the store and restaurant owners who brought food and drink out to those who stood in line. Like people all around the world who attended vigils. Like all the people who have donated over three million dollars to the victim fund.
People like my sister wonder how their children are going to look at a world where things like this can happen. It’s more important than ever for us to show them that love always wins.
We will still march in Pride parades. We’ll cry as we remember those lost in Orlando and other places around the world. We’ll love and laugh and do our best to bring more light to this world.
Every time hate tries to rub us out, to divide us, we will find a way to remember that we’re more alike than we are different.
If you would like to donate to the fund spearheaded by Equality Florida, go HERE.