I am disturbed by my lack of sorrow over the tragedy in Orlando. The bloodiest gun massacre since Wounded Knee, and instead of sorrow, I feel anger, frustration, and fear. I wept after Newtown, but that was 4 years and so many shootings ago.
Maybe I don’t feel immediate sorrow because I don’t have a personal connection. Although I have friends in the LGBTQ community all over the country, I didn’t know anyone who was in the Pulse nightclub, and I don’t think I had any friends of friends there either.
Maybe I feel anger because that’s my easiest go-to emotion. I am enraged that someone had such a twisted view of life, religion, himself, whatever, that he took out his issues in an act of untethered violence upon other humans. I feel white-hot rage that he was on the FBI watch list and was not prevented from picking up an AR-15, just like several of the past mass shooters have. I feel disgusted that in 2016 he either subscribed to a fundamentalist ideology, or that his parents raised him in one and- total conjecture here- maybe grew him into a self-loathing latent homosexual who believed his only way to satisfy God was to kill himself and those who shared his “sin.”
I also feel fear. I’ve written before about how my wife and I are seriously eyeing up Canada. Other large, diverse countries who welcome refugees and encourage diversity of thought, seem to have a better handle on public safety. It would be foolish to believe that our children are more immune in the USA than in other modern countries from a tragic encounter like this one.
But, sorrow. I can’t drum it up right now. I feel like something is broken inside of me.
Or maybe, I’m just not allowing myself to feel sorrow. I know it’s there. It’s like I can see it waiting patiently on the other side of wall. I know that if I were to watch video accounts of parents who lost their children, or hear stories about children who lost their parents, or read the words of siblings and lovers who will never get to say goodbye… that wall would crumble and I’d be weeping again.
Whatever our initial emotional reactions- fear, anger, sorrow, despair- this tragedy really isn’t about me, or you, or Donald Trump, or anyone outside of the people and families affected. But, we should all feel something. We should all feel a call to do something.
For my part, I’ll try to counter hatred with sanctuary. I’ll begin by posting links to a couple incredibly supportive places for LGBTQ folks, where even those who are currently in heterosexual relationships, or have children, or don’t really have words to define their sexual orientation, can reach out and find some support from others who have been in those exact same positions. Both of these places are churches, but by no means are they only open to religious folks.
Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) is also world-renowned and active in hundreds of locations.
Reach out. No matter who you are, you don’t need to walk alone.