I was checking the news on my phone and watering my plants on the balcony when I read about the shooting in Orlando Sunday morning. I had to tell the Hubby since he usually avoids the news on the weekend, and then we had to figure out how to tell the kids in a way that they might understand.
In a way, it’s a bit abstract–we are a middle class, straight-looking, cis-gendered, privileged white family (mom, dad, son, daughter, dog, and three cats). We don’t know anyone in Orlando, though we live just a few hours away since moving. We have gay friends and we donate money to the HRC every year, but otherwise, we are fairly lazy occasional protesters/supporters (depending on the event) of LGBT issues.
But for 49 families (whether they are families by blood or by love), this is is not abstract. This is nothing short of heartbreaking.
And as a parent, as a sister, a daughter, a neighbor, a friend, this could have been my heartbreak. This could have been my children’s heartbreak. This could have been my husband’s heartbreak. This could have happened to anyone of us, to anyone of our families.
Because my daughter’s first best friend has two mommies. Because my husband was the best man when his best friend was finally able to marry his partner. Because my favorite vacation as a child was visiting a favorite cousin before he died of AIDS in the early 90s. Because we have so many friends that are part of the LGBT community. Because my daughter might have a girlfriend or my son a boyfriend one day. Because this could have been us explaining to our children how our loved ones had been brutally killed because of who they loved.
Because, for 49 families, the hatred that we have allowed to poison our society has taken their beloved children, siblings, parents, partners, and friends.
When my husband and I told our kids about what happened they had the questions and comments we expected…some that we could answer, and some that we could not. Who, what, why…
We can name the killer. And we can investigate his motives, we can speculate over his influences, we can cast aspersions over his heritage, his religion, his sanity. We can hate him if we want to, for his terrible hate-filled actions. But at the end of the day, I can’t help but think he was as much of a tool as the gun he wielded (after all, that’s what the gun-nuts are
going to claim already claiming–its not the gun’s fault, it’s just a tool*).
But at the end of that, they each said something that I did not expect (from the one that said it). From Sharkbait, I was told that we should be sad as long as we needed to. And from Chickadee, I was informed that once we were done being sad, we should be very, very angry.
Because when we are done being sad, we should be very, very angry. We still live in a country and society that endorses or ignores the multiple religious ideologies (and particularly the Christian ones) that promote hatred against the LGBT community. We still live in a country and a society full of citizen-supported institutions that seek to deny equal protection under the law to LGBT individuals and families. We still live in a country and society that routinely participates in the marginalization of religious and ethnic minorities (where LGBT individuals are more likely to be even further marginalized) that creates environments where hatred festers oh-so-easily. And we still live in a country and society where an angry and disturbed attention-seeking abusive spouse (and a subject of FBI investigation) can buy a gun more easily than I can buy a pack of Sudafed.
We should be sad, and we should be angry, and then maybe (just maybe) we’ll get off our asses and take action. Because (as smarter and better people than I have said) the only tool that overcomes hate is love.
*As a gun owner, a gun is a tool made for the single expressed purpose of killing. Anyone that lacks the intelligence or integrity to admit that fact isn’t fit to own a gun. And some people that might be able to admit that still aren’t fit to own a gun. Because a truly responsible gun owner should be responsible enough to admit that there are members of the general public out there that shouldn’t own guns and that there are guns that shouldn’t be owned by members of the general public.