The first GHHD Gay High Holy Day of the season is just around the corner and I’m still grappling with the Pulse massacre. How do I even begin to describe my feelings? It affected me deeper than I thought it would. In many ways, I’m leery now even here in SF. I find myself more watchful of strangers and I’m more mindful of people around me. It makes me angry that I’ve been affected this way. It also made me realize the fight for equality is not over. As long as fanatics think they can go around hurting others in the name of [insert stupid religious extremism here], our fight is not over.
Because of my job I tend to disassociate from big public events, even in the gay world. It isn’t that I don’t care; in my line of work it’s mostly a protection mechanism. But this awful tragedy cut me to my core. I couldn’t ignore it, I couldn’t put it out of my mind and forget about it. I was in tears pretty much the whole week after. I didn’t know a single soul but these are my people. They grew up fighting the way I fought, just to survive and be. Our straight brethren can sympathize but they can never truly understand what we go thru. And that isn’t to bash them. It’s a testament to how we as humans are wired. We tune into ideals and actions that resonate in our own lives. Well this resonated in mine. And worst of all, not in a good way.
Worst of all, it brought back survival fears from my early years of growing up gay. East Texas wasn’t the friendliest place to be gay, let’s face it. I got bashed a few times and witnessed others get bashed as well. It’s funny because I used to tell myself that the hate crimes against me were “minor” because I came away with a few bruises. The sadness in that statement does not escape me now. This tragedy brought back the fear of not only being attacked but also just daring to live openly. I had put that fear away and now it’s come back. I don’t know for how long honestly, but I feel it again. Fears I thought long dead and forgotten. I’m sad, ashamed, and angry all at the same time.
GHHD #1 approaches this weekend and I volunteered to work. I normally make sure I’m off so I can attend the parade or fair. This year I thought I’d do one better and work. It’s not much but I feel like I’m contributing to keeping everyone safe. (I’ll be working remotely from the medical command booth)
I refuse to be afraid to live my life. I refuse to fear being out in public. And I sure as hell refuse to be intimidated into avoiding my own safe places. More of us may die. And I certainly hope it is never me, but I won’t go back in the closet. I won’t pretend to be something I’m not. I can’t think of a better cause to die for honestly. I’m probably being a little dramatic but I’m all worked up right now.
I hope that you celebrate Pride this week. Not because you have to, not because you feel obligated, but because you want to. You want to show that we are united in this. No matter how diverse, we are united in this fight. We will not be intimidated with fear. For my generation, we grew up living/breathing fear and we won’t go back. For the new generation, this might be their first taste of it. We all need to make sure it is their last.
No matter what you do, be safe and know you are loved. If your in big cities or small towns, know that you are not alone and your voice is one of many. I wish you all the safest and happiest Pride. Celebrate in whatever way brings you joy.
Hope springs eternal…
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