I went to the DC Pride Parade yesterday.
Parades, like road races, have made me a little bit nervous since the 2013 Boston Marathon. Events with large crowds lining the streets have joined the list of everyday activities that seem, at times, like acts of courage and defiance: going to school, traveling on public transportation, watching a movie, visiting a church or an abortion clinic.
Of course, for members of the LBGTQIA+ community, this list is so much longer, and the actual threats so much greater. I had this in the back of my mind yesterday. I knew that for most of the beautiful, proud, loving, seemingly care-free individuals who were marching and dancing and throwing beads, every day is an act of courage and defiance. For far too many people in this world and this country, being out and proud is dangerous.
Today I woke up to news of the deadliest mass shouting in this nation’s history – an act of horror and hatred against the LBGTQIA+ community. Over 100 people shot, 50 dead.
Officials are now saying it was an act of terror, possibly linked to an international terrorist organization. But unless the gunman was completely clueless when it comes to identifying gay nightclubs, his goal was not random terror. And if he chose this venue because he thought it embodied U.S. values, he was giving us more credit than we deserve.
If we say this attack was committed on “America,” we need to act like the patrons of Pulse are just as “American” as anyone else. This means changing minds and it means changing laws. It means making our hearts and all our institutions more open to everyone.
While we’re at it, let’s stop electing representatives who value the gun lobby more than the victims of gun violence. This act was committed with at least one weapon that shouldn’t be so easy to get your hands on.
To my friends, and to all who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, genderqueer… Muslim, people of color, immigrants, refugees, victims of any number of crimes perpetrated by individuals and by society… (the list goes on and on): I am sorry that living your life as you requires so much more bravery than living my life as me. I will do what I can to change this and to be a better ally. I admire you and I love you.