I’m an LGBTQ person. I identify as such and have done for many years.
So yeah, I have something to say about the shootings in Orlando on Saturday night/Sunday morning.
Except, it’s hard to put those thoughts together in a cognitive and clear fashion. Mostly because I’m angry and sad and worst of all, not surprised.
Every day members of the LGBTQ community are attacked or assaulted (physically or verbally). Every day. Most of these hate crimes are not reported. Anyone of the forty-nine people could’ve been killed or injured walking down the street on any given day. Instead, one guy, one guy on a terrorist watch list, by the way, took them all out at once. That’s the worst thing. It’s a case of instead, and not, “holy crap this awful thing happened what a horrible shock“.
I’m lucky. I grew up in an LGBTQ household, with an understanding family, in a safe neighbourhood and in a safer country for my community. I’ve never been harassed or insulted or attacked in the street for existing or holding my wife’s hand.
But it’s always on my mind. It’s a background concern. I feel better every time I see another same-sex couple walking hand and hand down the street, feel stronger, feel part of a better community too. But I don’t always feel safer. Some days I don’t even think about it, I like in a village, work in a small town, visit a slightly larger one for shopping and hospital appointments. It’s very LGBTQ friendly. As soon as I leave though I worry. I went to Coventry recently and was on edge the entire time I held my wife’s hand, the same when I visited America a couple of years ago.
I did it though because I will not be bullied or cowed by anyone.
This is why we need pride. Because forty-nine people were killed for being gay because every day people are too scared to report the abuse they receive to the authorities because people like me are worried about holding hands with the people we love.
We’re going backwards in going forwards, but it can’t last forever.
So I say this: If you’re LGBTQ don’t be afraid to go out next weekend. Populate the clubs and pubs and live your lives. Don’t let them win.
If you’re straight, be a good person. Don’t blame the Muslims. Blame the man. Support us by being an ally, by standing up to homophobia and Islamaphobia. Neither does the world any good.