I wear a rainbow pride bracelet. I bought it when I was writing my dissertation and spent so much time thinking about how many people have to constantly fear for their safety because of their identity. It acted as a reminder for me that I’m lucky to be able to live in relative safety. I realised how ridiculous that is. It’s ridiculous that I feel the need to add the ‘relative’ caveat. It’s ridiculous that I feel lucky for the privilege of having my existence tolerated. It’s ridiculous that other LGBT people aren’t even afforded that luxury. The atrocity which took place in Orlando has barely left my mind, I’ve lost sleep thinking about how sick it really is and what this says more generally about the lives of LGBT people.
The past few days have been difficult. They’ve been difficult to LGBT people everywhere. The sense of commutity among LGBT everywhere has been beyond touching, a much needed reminder of solidarity. Of course, the feelings of devastation and shock pale in comparison to those who endured the harrowing experiences of being face-to-face with a deranged sub-human who was out to eliminate them just for being who they are. For being who they are in one of the only place we’re allowed to be who we are freely.
The notion of a safe space is something difficult for LGBT to articulate. It’s difficult to explain to people the need to justify and explain yourself as anything other than ‘normal’ daily. It’s difficult to explain why having a place where we don’t need to do this is so valuable. LGBT can’t just live beliving themselves to be accepted by everyone and feeling safe that their sexuality won’t get them dirty looks, verbal abuse or land them in a hospital bed. The fact that this savage and barbaric act took place in a space practically sacred to LGBT is all more horrific. These spaces are central to LGBT people, especially when a reminder is needed that you don’t have to explain yourself as ‘abnormal’ and where acceptance of your ideniety is the default. In spite of a virulent attack on this idea, these spaces will endure as bastions for LGBT everywhere.
The fact that this attack was allowed to happen in an era and in a society we’re supposed to be thankful for living in for its tolerance and acceptance is truly disturbing. People argue today that LGBT are part of a mainstream, accepted and integrated. This is not the case. We’re tolerated. That people are allowed to deny that this was a deliberate attack on LGBT people is laughable and senseless. It’s laughable that were supposed to be happy with how far we’ve come while attacks such as this are still happening both in the west and elsewhere. Persecution on the basis of one’s sexuality isn’t dead. If it was, Owen Jones from the Guardain wouldn’t have to argue with presenters (read: bigots) that this was anything other than a deliberate attack and preachers across America wouldn’t get away with claiming that victims of the attack got what they deserved just for existing. It goes without saying that the countless acts of persecution happening across the world on LGBT people show that the world is less than perfect, too.
It’s disgusting that this attack was allowed to happen. It’s disgusting that some one could get their evil hands on a gun which they can use on a whim to punish a group of people for just being alive in a place they feel they can be secure. It’s no surprise to anyone that loose gun controls could have this outcome. In a country where people day that LGBT deserve to die, loose gun legislation is basically an invitation to put those thoughts into practice. Yes, the US has far too many gun crimes and mass shootings. One is too many. But this mass shooting was a deliberate attack in LGBT people. A deliberate attack not on a few random LGBT people but on the very idea that we deserve a place to feel safe in. The fact that people would consider spreading bile about any group of people is depressing, as is the fact that this seems to be a secure feature of society. People continue to attack LGBT people both openly through overt homophobia and discreetly through even thinking they get a say in some one’s sexuality and identity. Tolerance and acceptance are two distinct things. Real acceptance would be more than just rolling one’s eyes when professional hate-mongers get a platform and an audience to poison with venomous words.
Of course, there isn’t really any solution to this frustration. Some people may just be hateful creatures. Frustration is how things change, though. It is worth being angry at those who would deny our identity or claim that society is fine as it is. Society is anything but fine. In America a purely evil ogre is actually a candidate for presidency. The great “leader of the free world” could actually be a mistake of a politician who is running entirely on a platform of hate. In Britain, a group of people are very successfully using fear and prejudice as a tactic to campaign for Britain’s exist from the EU. Both of these fear-inducing developments are happening today in 2016. In a time where we’re supposed to be thankful for living in. This is also a time where 50 people have died for being who they are and LGBT people must continue to live as less than other people. I like to believe that being frustrated, being angry is how these things might change. And I also feel that this world needs change. It takes being furious at the state of things are they are to achieve that.
Be sad for what’s happened. Be angry. Seethe. Feel solidarity in knowing that others are doing the exact same.