Dear Orlando, I don’t know what to say

I very very much believe that there is nothing I could say that would not sound trite in the wake of the massacre at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando this past weekend.

Offer my prayers? I am not religious.

Offer my thoughts? I think about a thousand things a day, so many of these thoughts are hopes for a better world and I’m frankly not sure my thoughts do a damn thing.

Offer my words? As I said already, trite. I’m a straight white cis Canadian who has no idea, and I mean NO IDEA how it feels to be LGBT, never mind how it must feel to be LGBT when, in this day and age and in this part of the world, someone can just walk into a gay nightclub (one of those few places where LGBT people are supposed to be able to feel totally free and safe to be themselves) and murder people by the dozen. I don’t know what that feels like.

I don’t know what it feels like to be in danger because of the way I love, speak, move, dress, or act. I don’t know what it feels like to have to choose between being myself or being accepted by my family, my faith, or my community. I don’t know what it feels like to have to second-guess every move I make in public because it might not be safe–can I kiss my partner? Can I hold their hand? Can I wear these clothes or get this haircut? Will this person say hateful things to me? Will that person punch me in the street? Will this employer give me a job? Will that social worker think I’m a pervert? Will this business serve me? Will that person beat me to death? Will that person shoot me? Will anyone protect me?

Hatred and violence don’t just spring up from nowhere. They are encouraged by politicians, by religious leaders, by cultural norms that squeeze masculinity and femininity into narrow and outdated categories and severely punish anyone who doesn’t fit in. When we laugh at a homophobic joke or just ignore it when yet another trans* woman of colour is found murdered or tut-tut when another gay teen commits suicide without DOING anything to stop it, when we ban trans* people from bathrooms and imply that they are rapists or pedophiles, when we try to prevent children from learning about LGBT people as if making children aware of the existence of 10% of our population is akin to forcing kids to learn about some kind of lewd sex act, we contribute to this hate. We might not shout the slur, throw the punch, or pull the trigger, but we don’t do a hell of a lot to discourage those who do.

So there’s nothing I can say to my LGBT friends, or to the victims of Orlando, except that I have no f*cking clue what you’re going through. And I don’t want to know, and I have the privilege of not having to. It’s all so absurdly unfair and to say that I’m sorry that it happened and that it never never never should have happened doesn’t even begin to cover it.

Meme from bustle.com

Meme from bustle.com

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One thought on “Dear Orlando, I don’t know what to say

  1. Well said. I appreciate your reminder that safety and the freedom to be myself are privileges not everyone enjoys and I can help extend those privileges to them.

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