It's taken me a couple of days to process the horror of the shootings at Pulse in Orlando by a clearly disturbed, confused, and beyond angry man. I've felt bombarded with news, pictures, and a FB page full of condolences over the last couple of days, though I haven't posted anything myself. This morning, while scrolling through my newsfeed, I saw a post from one of the bravest, strongest women I've had the privilege to know. She is also a lesbian. She posted that all she heard was deafening silence, and wondered where words of outrage, solace, and solidarity were from many of her social media friends. I've thought a lot about that this morning. Why hadn't I posted anything? Why had I been one of the silent ones?
Here is the best way I can describe it. There are people I love desperately who are LGBTQ. They've taken care of my children in my hour of need. They've supported me, listened to me cry out in pain, and laughed with me in moments of sheer joy. They accept me exactly as I am, warts and all. The thought that these people would be targeted and killed for being exactly who they are rendered me silent. All I could do was picture my dear friends in that club, terrified and running for their lives, and the fierceness of my sadness sat heavy in my chest. I had nothing to say that didn't sound trite or false. Thoughts and prayers? Come on.
I think part of my silence comes from who I am. I am a white, middle-class, straight woman. I've lived as one is "supposed" to; I went to college, got my degree, got married, had kids, got divorced, remarried the right man. (Well, maybe the last two are my small rebellion). I've never been discriminated against or hated or come after with a semiautomatic weapon because of who I am - or if I have been, it's so subtle I didn't even register it. So what could I possibly say that would convey the magnitude of the heavy sadness and despair I feel over these murders that wouldn't come off as cheesy at worst and condescending at best?
It disgusts me that this murder is being politicized in an election cycle where neither candidate seems like a good choice. It disgusts me that an unstable person on the FBI watchlist was able to get weapons. It disgusts me that people who claim to be Christians laud the slaughter of people doing nothing more than dancing in a nightclub as a positive event.
I'm writing this to honor the people who were gunned down by a person who should never have had weapons. I'm writing this to honor the people close to my heart who ARE Orlando. I'm writing this to show that I am not one of the silent.
Courtney is a most fabulous writer and teacher of gifted middle school students. She is the author of two novels - see the "Cate Books" page of this site for information! Watch for updates about future books that need to be part of your personal library. In the meanwhile, enjoy her pithy life observations.