Orlando, Sandy Hook, Phoenix, Columbine, Dallas, Baton Rouge, Nice, Paris, Brussels, Turkey....
The world seems to be infiltrated with haters who wish many of us dead based on a belief that we are the evil-doers while they are the ones creating the evil.
What does this mean to the LGBTQ community specifically, well, for one, it means we need to come together to comfort and support one another, just as many of us did following similar to tragedies in our country's past. For many of us New York residents, it would be the events in the aftermath of 9/11.
As we have learned from past experiences, we simply cannot let time pass without addressing the anger directed towards us by those who wish us harm. As for our fellow citizens, we need to be kinder to one another and not just let time heal our wounds but, to take actions to keep these horror shows from happening again.
At our last LGBTQ parade in New York City, I joined the activist group, "Gays Against Guns" and marched alongside many others, both within the LGBTQ community and our loving friends and supporters. Laying down on the streets of the parade route more than some twenty times, I felt a strong connection to the shooting victims at Pulse nightclub and began to cry at certain points in the parade for them.
I recall that after the events of 9/11, many of us New Yorkers, had to become more vigilant and as directed by frequent subway announcements, "if we see something, say something." Something of which I did one time when I noticed a bag left by someone on the subway. As it turned out, the bag was filled with clothes once the bag was checked out by the police but, they were grateful for my vigilance and concern for my fellow New Yorkers.
As a therapist and educator, I have to question why such hate? What exactly is going on within someone's mind who feels it is their "God given" right to kill others? Also, how is it that those close to the murderers always seem to say that they were shocked and in disbelief over the actions of their loved ones after the tragic results of their rage?
Didn't anyone see signs of this anger or rage prior to the atrocities or did they, as many families tend to do, either ignore or, deny what they saw or experienced? And, then, after the atrocities happened, to say they didn't know their loved one felt such hate and if they did, they would have done something about it!
Such as with the case with the Orlando shooter, whom according to his father, became hateful toward gays after seeing two men kissing in a bathroom. Then, why was that father or the killer's wife, not suspicious when he purchased all those firearms prior to the attack? They had to know that he was up to no good! Did they confront him or even question his actions prior to the attack?
In my documentary film Talk it OUT: No More Gay Shame I address the adverse effects of gay shame resulting in self destructive action if not addressed with honesty and self affirmation. Obviously, this killer, and many like him, had demons he was unable to come to terms with, and his answer to his inner torment, was to inflict his rage towards the world and himself was through guns and destruction.
As a citizen of this country, I am in constant disbelief with the actions of many within the Republican party and the NRA's continued actions toward preventing any form of sensible gun control. Even when their Democratic colleagues staged a public sit-in to protest their lack of logical compromise to keep guns out of the hands of people like Adam Lanza or Omar Mateen, the Republican majority and their NRA counterparts continue to refuse to vote for sensible legislation to stop the violence.
With the understanding that even our political officials are refusing to protect us from these monsters, it is up to us to be the advocates for sensible gun legislation to use our democratic power to promote change. Marching with "Gays Against Guns" and shout slogans was one way for me to say to myself to do something rather than nothing.
We simply cannot sit at home and shake our heads when we see and hear of these almost daily mass murders of our world citizens. We can also promote change by voting out those who refuse to vote for change in gun control following the directions of NRA lobbyists.
As when I marched in the Gay Pride Parade last June, I felt empowered when we all shouted "No Fly, No Buy" referring to those on 'no fly' lists at airports should not be allowed to purchase guns! Omar Mateen was on such a list but unfortunately, was not on the list when he purchased guns before the massacre! Such slip-ups can simply not continue to exist since they have resulted in horrific tragedies!
Does our right to bear arms stand for everyone in today's world? NO! For, when that law was enacted in the 18th century, men carried muskets, not assault rifles!
Referring to today's world, if there was a warning noted at the time prior to the Pulse massacre, perhaps it may have resulted in arousing suspicion with the gun seller in refusing to sell the weapons to the killer and the tragedy may have been averted. After all, it was reported that the gun seller was a former police officer, he reported that he did background checks on Mr. Mateen and saw nothing that would have caused him concern. Even though, a previous gun store owner refused to allow the Pulse killer to purchase guns in his store and apparently reported his suspicions to authorities to no avail.
As a result of such examples, those who are not being influenced by powerful others, such as our politicians appear to be, we as citizens must speak up and stop the insanity, just as what anti- war demonstrators did in the seventies to put an end to the war in Vietnam. Actions which eventually did have an effect on ending the war.
With regard to demonstrating our own rights to free speech, just as I did back in the seventies three years following Stonewall riots, I was empowered shouting "One, Two, Three, Four, We Won't Take it Any More!" Those words have equal validity in today's dangerous times.