Our Hearts Are In Orlando

We must keep kissing in the street.

In the month when so many of us celebrate liberation and pride, within a week of the anniversary of the massacre of our black siblings in a Charleston church, in a place where we gather – in a place we are known to congregate to soak ourselves in laughter and community and self-worth – and in the wake of terrific successes as the long arc of justice bends toward recognition of our humanity and equality and worth...

This attack joins the wave of violence against lesbian, gay, bi, trans and queer people. It joins the Stonewall Inn and the Upstairs Lounge and others as an invasion of our recreational sanctuaries. Our trans sisters of color are being killed and their bodies abandoned in horrifying numbers. Legislative and policy attempts run riot to humiliate us from bathrooms to cake shops, to demonize and criminalize our love and our pride and our spirit – attempts not just to destroy our body but to also crush our soul, to not only devastate our souls but to obliterate our bodies. To silence us, and to erase us. To make us unspeakable, unhearable, unseen.

Those who hate us would have us believe that AIDS and bullets are God's justice, God's just punishment for our shameful-, sinful- ness. But I would have us believe that God was in Orlando in Pulse Saturday night, dancing, drinking, loving, dying. I would have us believe that God was among the first responders Sunday morning, healing and treating and trying to save. I would have us believe that God is here with us tonight, grieving and angry and breaking and mending.

Those who hate Muslims would have us believe that people of Islamic faith are inherently untrustworthy and violent, that more guns and more violence and more death is needed to set things right. But I pray we will understand that there are no clear lines between us and them. That, again, Muslims were in Orlando, in Pulse, among the dead, among the first responders, that Muslims are here now, grieving and angry and breaking and mending. I pray we will understand that what will now set things right is not more hate but more life. What will set us right is not more death but more love.

A long time ago, a little girl I knew named Abigail announced to her dad and his boyfriend that she would kiss them “even in the middle of the street.” As the black child of a white father and the daughter of a gay man, at five years of age she had already learned of the judgment and the danger that some folks face by kissing one another and being seen, by daring to be provocative and also public, by presuming that no more propriety is required for our intimacy than for any other and that there is no shame in our love.

And she had already learned, so young, that she could find her power over that judgment and that threat in a deliberate act, even willful, perhaps the revolutionary act, of kissing in the street.

We need more kissing, not less, more affection, more love, more gentle mutual consensual touching of one another's bodies in public, so that everyone can see all the people who love each other in all the ways that love is shown.

We must keep kissing in the street. We will keep kissing in the middle of the street.