So many thoughts and emotions remain.
I think about myself, as a much younger man, trying not to be gay, but venturing into the darkness of a gay club for the first time. Nervous, scared, but also a growing sense of safety. Safety, even when, in the early 90’s, the clubs in Portland would thoroughly pat everyone down because of a real threat of people bringing in weapons.
I think about 2004, when Alex would call me up whenever he needed a safe escort to Latino Night at Embers. The energy and emotion of the young latinx gays and lesbians dancing to the beat of the music. The sense of safety I saw as they would celebrate life with their chosen families.
I think about now, with my African American boyfriend, still having to navigate every situation to be aware of who is around us when we hold hands in public or when we have (almost) kissed in public.
Knowing where to find safe spaces as a gay man is important.
I see and hear the political leaders who have long spoken against LGBTQ people, now trying to backpedal or ignore or deny that Pulse was a gay nightclub. With all the recent anti-immigrant and anti-gay rhetoric, isn’t this convenient?
Latinx men and women, LGBTQ people mostly, shot down by a Muslim man.
Ignore the specific details (racial and sexual orientation/identity) of who was killed and injured.
Ignore the fact that he obtained a high powered weapon legally, so easily, when, from his background, there should have been at least a few more hurdles for him (I won’t begin to discuss the inappropriate nature of the specific weapon used, which has no purpose except to kill a lot of people quickly).
No, ignore all of that because it is too convenient to focus on the fear of Muslim people. Focus on that fear and hatred, so as not do deal with your own failures or shortsightedness. After all, the politics of the presidency are much more important than the humanity of who was affected. More important than the politics of community responsiblity.
I am angry. I am sad. I am numb.
I read the pain of close friends who knew some of the people killed. The stories of each of the 49 people matter.
These are all part of the thoughts and stories that surround me.