This morning I woke ready for a chill day. I opened up my social media only to be shocked and astonished by the news of the Orlando shooting. Over 50 people are dead and lots more are injured because a guy decided to open fire and murder LGBTQ individuals in a place that was supposed to be their safe haven.
I can’t help but to think about the victims, their families and friends. Innocent lives were taken in the premise of hate. In June of last year, Queer communities celebrated as same-sex marriage became the law of the land. I celebrated because it finally meant that I could legally marry the person I love one day. This year, Queer communities are faced with the worst mass murder/shooting in US History. I cannot fathom what goes on in the mind of a murderer and how they rationalize or even come up with the idea that it is ok to take another person’s life.
I sit here at my desk unable to really process what I am feeling at this moment. As a Black Queer man, it seems like I am constantly having to face my mortality. I am either hearing about Black men being gunned down and/or beaten by police officers or Queer people being brutally murdered and/or bashed. Racism and homophobia are so REAL. Being a Queer person of color, I feel like I always have to be hyperaware of my surrounding. Questions of will I be attacked because I am Black or because I am Queer constantly flood my mind. This senseless killing happened at the club’s Latin Night; a night presumed to be filled with lots of Queer people of color.
I can’t help but think about all the nights I spent at various clubs in Austin that were quite similar to Pulse. The crowded dance floor, the loud thumping music, the low and occasionally flashing lights. If this were to happen at any of those venues, I could have easily been among those who will never see another day, whose hearts will no longer beat. My friends and fraternity brothers could have been among those victims. Thankfully, a majority of my fraternity brothers in Orlando have been accounted for. When will this stop?
People are constantly saying that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” Guns are inherently violent and only promote more violence. If someone starts shooting, then you shoot back. In the end, both have scars whether visible or not. The murderer was licensed to have these weapons as well. How can a person feel safe knowing that a person licensed to own multiple guns can plan such a calculated event? The US has a problem with gun violence. This is a fact. Something needs to be done about it. How many other advanced countries in the world this level of gun violence? Very few. The US needs to get of its high horse and learn from these countries. What good is it being called “the land of the free” or “the land of opportunity” when at any given moment your life can be taken from you simply because of who you are.
Queer nightlife was supposed to be a safe haven. It was supposed to be a place where Queer folx could go out, have fun and feel some sense of safety. That was shattered last night. I am scared. When will it end?