Even before the bodies of those slain were identified by their families, closet homophobes, evangelical Christians, and radical Muslims all had something they could together rejoice about: LGBTs were dead.
Long before the bullets of the mass murderer tore through the bodies of 102 human beings, mostly, but not all, LGBTs, at Pulse in Orlando, our community has faced violence. Viciousness is something we are well aware of.
Even more painful, something that makes me downright mad, is this happened in a safe space.
We cannot hold our partner's hand in public without worrying about our safety. That fear was not created by a terrorist, but by our families, neighbors, pastors, and politicians. A safe place where all could be themselves, an establishment for LGBTs, was violated in the worst mass shooting on U.S. soil.
The bodies were still lying lifeless in the club, when the arguments from those who are afraid that their semiautomatic weapons would be taken away took off. The NRA remained woefully silent. The loss of life that was made possible by a semiautomatic assault rifle splashed on every news channel offering obvious proof of the need for gun control. However, for those so concerned about rights, the right to bear arms seems to be the only right that matters. The need for civil rights and the right to our lives apparently doesn't matter.
And others find themselves in a bind.
They, and by "they" I mean the ultra-religious right, have to figure out how to reconcile believing killings like the ones at Sandy Hook to be deplorable, while dubbing this mass murder justifiable in the eyes of their loving god. Instead of using this historically horrific moment to unite the country and start real dialogue, we are in the same place we've always been. Our friends, allies, and those who accept us are by our side. The pain we in the community live with unconsciously on a daily basis has been pushed to the forefront of our minds. There is anger, fear, pain; so much pain.
Like racism, denying that homophobia exists will not make it go away. Like all human beings, we bleed blood, we are covered in skin, we love, and we exist. However, when you treat a community as if they are garbage, you embolden the same reckless insanity that accompanied the killer into Pulse Nightclub in Orlando.
You cannot differentiate between what happened in Orlando and what happens across this country on a daily, weekly basis. Years and years of institutional bigotry manifests into a horrible act. Instead of an apology, we are shattered to pieces as the religious right continue to spew their poison and point the finger at Islam. Truth be told, they are no better.
With each religious zealot, with each lawmaker and talking head who insists on robbing our community of rights, our community is under siege. Pointing the finger at radical Islam will not wipe the blood from their hands. With each moment of harmful rhetoric comes fatal consequences, only it is not those who create it who pay the price. This conduct does not originate across the world in Islamic countries. This conduct is occurring in our own backyards.
Bear that in mind, long after this heart wrenching tragedy has fallen into the back of our collective consciousness. Long after the bodies of the deceased are laid to rest. Long after the next shooting. Do not let these men and woman, our brothers and sisters, die in vain.