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Notes From A Siege

As I write this, 50 people in Orlando are dead and dozens more are in the hospital after an antigay gunman, apparently motivated by antigay hatred and ISIS allegiance, opened fire in a gay nightclub with assault weapons and a handgun. The firearms were legally purchased (he had a Florida concealed-carry permit) even though he was on the terrorist watch list. The nightclub was, as USAToday reports and as bars and clubs have been for queer people for decades, a community center and haven where people could gather, learn, organize, and celebrate.

The same night, in what is being reported as a coincidence, a white dude from Indiana with an NRA sticker on his car was arrested on his way to LA Pride in a car full of assault weapons and explosives.

I wish I could only feel sad, that I could give myself the space and time to cry, that I could trust my friends and family and country to check in with the communities attacked and to listen to our concerns.

I can’t. It’s not possible.

Queer people are under siege in this country, but based on what CNN I have been able to make myself watch today, we have not been invited to comment.

Maybe if we had been asked, we could have argued with the characterization of attacks on gay bars and queer people as “new.”

Maybe we could have pointed out that homicides against queer people, and especially queer people of color, in this country have been rising by double-digit percentages for years.

Maybe we could have pointed out that one shooter’s claim to support ISIS and another shooter’s unknown but possibly right-wing motives matter less than the ability of homophobic terrorists of all shades and twisted creeds to easily purchase AR-15 assault rifles.

Maybe we could have pointed out that many of the right-wing politicians offering sickly-sweet thoughts and prayers have appeared on platforms with pastors calling for the death of queer people; that the Lieutenant Governor of Texas, Dan Patrick, responded this morning by tweeting (and deleting) a quote from Galatians about “reaping what you sow.”

That tweet was the first thing that made me more angry than sad today. Since then I have become only more angry.

I am angry at politicians tweeting about “thoughts and prayers” when they have voted to deny queer people our basic rights.

I am angry that the New York Times deleted the word “gay” from its initial coverage (thought it later returned) and that it has been absent from CNN’s blazing chyrons.

I am angry that that the queer community will be used as a prop by politicians who hate us, that queer Latin@ bodies will be climbed over and stepped on by right-wing politicians who would have shot up that club themselves if they could get away with it and think the souls of the dead are rotting in hell.

I am angry that these right-wing racist politicians are trying their hardest to use an attack on queer Latin@ people to grab power — so they can keep attacking queer Latin@ people and other marginalized communities.

I am angry that these same politicians — all 53 Republican Senators and ‘Democrat’ Heidi Heitkamp — voted, in December, to continue allowing people on the terrorist watch list, like the murderer in Florida, to buy assault weapons and handguns and obtain concealed-carry permits.

Some angry, insistent demands:

If you don’t believe queer people deserve basic human rights, take these victims’ names out of your mouth.

If you have appeared on stage with pastors who call for the death of LGBT people (cf Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal), take these victims’ names out of your mouth.

If you want to “deport the illegals and build a wall,” take these queer Latin@ victims’ names out of your mouth.

If you want to stoke more fear or drop more bombs or respond to violence with more violence, take these victims’ names out of your mouth.

If you haven’t checked in with your queer friends and family today — as none of my straight friends have — then take these victims’ names out of your mouth.

If you’re editing a news program and haven’t invited any queer people to comment, then take these victims’ names out of your mouth and consider a new line of employment.

And if, like Donald Trump, your response to these attacks was to tell President Obama to resign for not saying the words “radical” and “Islam” in the order you’d prefer, and to congratulate yourself over the dead bodies of 50 people; take these victims’ names out of your mouth, listen to the advice of Miss Venus Xtravaganza, and delete your account.

Today I walked around my city with my partner. It was a beautiful day. We kissed in a park and held hands. Tonight I will go to a queer bar with friends, with the black and brown and white and Christian and Jewish and Muslim queer people who are my brothers and sisters and siblings in this, and we will drink and cry and hug and laugh and be there for one another, as far too few of you have been there for us. We will live unafraid — and together, kicking and singing, dancing, led by drag queens and femme people and people of color, begin the work of defeating every ideology of hate that wants us dead.

Life victorious.

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