After the September 11th attacks, there were widespread proclamations of solidarity with the citizens of the Big Apple that were stated most succinctly as "Today, we are all New Yorkers." Such became the refrain after the attacks on the commuter trains in the United Kingdom in 2005, "Today, we are all Londoners;" and on Paris cafes and a nightclub just last year, "We are all Parisians."
Last night, at a popular, crowded nightspot, in central Florida's shining, modern, ever-sprawling metropolis of Orlando, just minutes from the "happiest place on Earth," Disney's Magic Kingdom, yet another vicious attack of terrorism occurred. On November 13, 2015, more than eighty-nine concertgoers were murdered at the Bataclan nightclub in Paris. On June 11, 2016, fifty club goers were murdered at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. The only new wrinkle to this numbingly oft-repeated, blood-soaked tale: the Orlando victims are gay.
Now post-millennial America is a political place. Having an abundant and inexpensive supply of food and fuel allows for endless discourse about what the Constitution means and how best to ensure we are living up to our founding ideals. So it was no surprise that with the gut-churning swiftness of the twenty-four second media, in all its iterations, the narrative of this latest tragedy so rapidly spider-webbed to include the responses of various politicos. Those with D's after their names called out the R's for lax gun laws. Some of the R's retorted the homophobia of Islamist terrorism is to blame, and the D's are going to end up getting their bases of Jews and gays all killed someday.
What they all need to say is simply, "Today we are all gay." Of course, for the R's this is sadly far less likely considering they recently un-passed protections for LGBT workers after they had in fact just passed them. One particularly strident pol at the time openly espoused that voting to protect employees from getting terminated, solely because of their sexuality, was a mortal sin.
This returns me to the question that I use as the title of this post. How much does someone have to refuse to accept the innate humanity of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals to be unable to make a simple profession of solidarity with those who were slaughtered? If someone perhaps not so deep in the hater-crusader corner came forward, Speaker Ryan, W, Governor Kasich etc. and said simply via text, tweet, or email... "Today we are all gay," how far would that move us toward realizing that our culture wars are philosophical, fought with rhetoric (as morally convicted and faith-based as it may be) not bullets.
If even symbolic, verbal solidarity is too much of a leap over the rainbow, let's try: "Today, we are all Orlandoans." Maybe this second version is a little too water-downed, one step removed, from the appropriate and needed truth, but it also can in its own way be more profound. LGBT people have always known that beyond our sexuality, as strong a signifier of our essential identity as that is, we are people of passions, ideas, humor, as well as varying professions, tastes and opinions. We are men and women of faith or not, activism or not, but all citizens, all members of the fabric of our communities, including New York, London, Paris and now Orlando.
Some of these recent terrorist attacks, like last night's in central Florida, were directed toward a particular group (Jews, gays, satirical cartoonists) but it is not just people of different ethnicities, sexualities or faiths who are targeted. We, as a culture, may well be approaching, in fits and starts, the final stanza of Pastor Martin Niemoller's famous and devastating commentary: "Then they came for me -- and there was no one left to speak for me."
We all must no longer see any attack as on another, them (Jews, gays, Muslims, French, British, New Yorker's, etc.) but as on us. So, I start the ball rolling with my affirmation of support, "Today, I am an Orlandoan." Written in solidarity with those tragically lost who also happen to be gay.