Many of us have become desensitized to the mass shootings in North America. They keep happening. But they are at the edge of our awareness – we hear about them, think they are horrible, and move on with our lives. We might change our facebook profile picture or avatar but we don’t really engage with the issues behind the shootings.
The Orlando shooting broke my heart. I couldn’t hold in the tears and had to disengage from social media as an act of self-care. Every tweet I read about the shooting, about LGBTQ people feeling unsafe, and about living with fear just pricked away at my insides. All I could think about was the hate that causes this type of action and the wish that we lived in a world that was more open, more accepting, and just a nicer place. We all deserve better and need to treat each other with respect. I can’t even begin to imagine the pain and grief of those directly impacted by the shooting.
I also thought a lot about my privilege and the need to speak up. I’m queer. But at first glance I pass – my partner is male, we have a daughter together and to most outsiders we probably look like we are both hetero. I’m not. But it’s often easier to just let people think I am.
I’ve felt unsafe speaking my truth, I’ve felt afraid to be who I am, and I often don’t talk about that part of my life. I’ve had my identity denied, my choices questioned, and been told it’s just a phase. It’s not. It’s who I am. I’m a private person to begin with but often part of my reluctance to share has to do with fear. But I’m stable in my life and need to speak up more.
We still desperately need safe spaces. I worry about LGBTQ youth who don’t have support networks, who need a community to belong to, and who hear whispered words of hate. We still need Pride. We still need advocacy. Coming out is still a challenge…and you rarely do it just once, it happens over and over again when you meet new people and are in new situations. We need to love our queer children and teach our straight children to be allies. We need to talk about all types of relationships, gender identities, and sexuality.
Love is love.