I’ve been looking for a way to put into words the complete lack of concern, lack of comment and lack of connection to the atrocity in Orlando I’ve seen from anyone in the (conservative Christian) community where I grew up. They were Paris; they were Brussels; but they can’t be Pulse. To acknowledge this tragedy is to admit that queer people exist, that they deserve to live(!) and that belittling their personhood or right to live out their truth is a direct cause of the hateful attitudes that lead to these extreme actions.
If they do decide to acknowledge it, it will be to make some brash denouncement of Islam and all Muslims, ignoring the fact that this shooter had more in common with them than he did with anyone fighting for ISIS in Syria.
Perhaps, at best, they’ll send their “thoughts and prayers.” They prayed after Sandy Hook, they prayed after San Bernardino, and they continued to clutch their pearls when anyone mentioned gun reform or requested respect for the queer community. I don’t want any more prayers. I want actions.
There is no excuse for the United States to have gun violence rates 20 times higher than any other developed nation. This is not about stopping people from hunting or protecting themselves. This is about human-on-human attacks that occur with extreme weapons meant to be instruments of war. We must change.
Furthermore, while I respect the solidarity of saying this was an attack against “all Americans,” this was, in fact, a targeted hate crime. This is was not an attack against a generic “America,” this was an attack against gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer and other allied folks who were celebrating their own existence. Do not erase that fact by framing this as an Islamic attack against the U.S. Do not use this as an excuse to hate, fear or disrespect Muslims.
Many reports suggest that the shooter’s rampage against the LGBTQ community may have been sparked by his outrage upon seeing two men kiss publicly in Miami earlier this year. In all likelihood (superficial pronouncements aside), this man had no real connection or affiliation with ISIS. Regardless of his affiliation, if you are more shocked by the thought of two men kissing (or a transgender person using your bathroom, or a Muslim praying next to you, etc.) than by the murder of 50+ people for being queer, you need to take a serious look at your values.
I am shocked, hurt and angered by the attack in Orlando. I am less shocked – but equally hurt and angered – by the response (or lack thereof) by the conservatives I’ve observed. Take a hard look at yourself and the world in which you live. Think about who or what the real enemy is. No good will ever come from hatred or ignorance. Practice love. Show compassion. And for god’s sake, have some common sense.