Confession: I Am Angry – Politics, Privilege, and the Pulse Shooting in Orlando

Content Warning: Gun violence, homo- and transphobia, racism, and general insensitive Christian cishet nonsense.

I think I nearly made my awesome, but incredibly empathetic therapist cry during our session on Friday. There is so much going on about this whole situation that hurts and infuriates me, but I can’t seem to take the heat out of it long enough to bring out my usual cool clarity. I went all Vesuvius in therapy, and while that relieved the pressure, it sure didn’t relieve the fire.

I can’t grieve, I can’t process, because once again my community is being used as a political football, and this event as a play in a game for people who have no fucking business having an opinion on it, all to make their tired-ass political points. Most of the time, these people are complicit in, if not directly responsible for, the atmosphere and culture that encourages and rewards white cishet usually-Christian people and right-wing politicians to collectively cheer when a gay bar celebrating Latinx Night gets shot up by a gay, cis Muslim man.

Islam vs. Queers, as if in some sick cage match to the death. And to add to the amusement, it’ll be broadcast on every major news outlet and local listing, everywhere in the country and in every corner of the Internet, 24 hours a day, with plenty of white, cishet, likely-Christian-worldview-skewed bullshit commentary to keep things extra brutal.

Are you not entertained?

If you’re not LGBTQ+ and/or Latinx, and you posted anything having to do with gun control, “radical Islamic extremism” (or any combination of words like those), the nature of hate crimes, or really anything regarding this event beside actively seeking out and signal boosting the people who were affected and in mourning this past week, their experiences and their pain, you are part of this problem. Plain and simple. The fact that I hardly saw that very simple show of support from anyone I knew, let alone the Christians I knew, really fucking infuriates me.

Mary and I have a gay neighbor. We used to think he was an asshole because our first encounter with him wasn’t really all that great. We got off on the wrong foot. It’s better now; we talked it out a few months back, and I actually came out to him a little while later. We remembered that he had previously been a pastor and lived in Florida some years back, and since this was a horrifying event for our community in general, let alone for someone potentially from the area, we went over to check on him and make sure he was OK. He had two friends in that club that night who were injured by trampling, but thankfully alive. But it was that, out of everyone he knew, of his friends and family and co-workers, the only people to check up on him in this world were his godless, queer neighbors. Jumping Jesus on a Pogo Stick, where in the ever-loving fuck were the Christians in his life? I mean, isn’t this, like, supposed to be in their wheelhouse somewhere? Isn’t this supposed to BE their wheelhouse? And he used to be a pastor! There had to be some people in his life that were both Christian and aware that he might be hurting. We just went over there on a hunch, for fuck’s sake. We all shared feelings and memories, a good cry, some even better hugs, and a little bit of each other’s humanity in the moment.

Why is that so fucking difficult? That is what needs to happen right now. That is what needs to be said and done right now, and nothing else. Because I can’t talk about the finer points of why you’re wrong about gun control yet, or why hate crimes need to be called and treated as such, or why the self-loathing and incredibly dark gallows humor that many in the LGBTQ+ and POC communities experience and express is completely and totally understandable. I can’t address that fucking noise because I don’t have it in me right now. I’m hurt, I’m scared, and I need to process and grieve – I’m simply not there yet.

But in your privilege, you don’t feel this way. Not to say you don’t feel bad, but you don’t feel this way. And when you exercise that privilege to completely skip over the grief and mourning of others, in order to be the first one to talk, to grab that ball and score that point, we are no longer people to you. We’re just tools you feel entitled to use to make your points and humiliate your political and/or ideological rival.

So yeah. I’m angry. I’m glad two incredibly privileged and openly homophobic and transphobic coworkers were out on project this week, as I might have caused an HR event otherwise. But I can’t guarantee that they’ll be out the next time someone decides to make headlines at the LGBTQ+ community’s expense. What then? I have to plan now for my own advocacy against them in preparation for their return, while I try to find some space to process, while I keep the other plates spinning for which I’m responsible. And Pride is in two weeks. Do I even want to go, knowing that for many people going it is nothing more than a spectacle? A safe place for drunk, cishet people to party, despite the fact that we’re getting gunned down and blown up? Knowing even more people know nothing of Stonewall, the whole reason Pride is when and what it is, beside what they may have picked up from a recent whitewashed, cis-centric, bullshit money-grab of a movie?

Deafened by all the bullshit noise, overwhelmed, emotionally exhausted, mid-grief processing, planning my next defensive strategies and maneuvers, I have to consider all these things as I try to appear normal and stay professional in a job that many people’s livelihoods rely on me to perform flawlessly.

And through it all, so… So very angry.

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