As the dust settles in the aftermath of one of the largest mass shootings in U.S. history, most Americans will continue to go about their daily lives. Across the country, people will have gone to work, done their laundry, helped their children with their homework and lived just as they did before. The Facebook posts of grief, pride or solidarity will move further down the wall; replaced by the latest animal memes, inspirational quote, or clip from a late night comedy show.
For a few they'll recover from their injuries. They'll begin working to heal the physical, emotional and psychological wounds, while others bury their children, their brothers, sisters, and spouses. And for some family members, they will learn for the first time that their beloved was gay and now they are gone. None of their lives will ever be the same, having experienced the worst that humanity has to offer.
As a gay man, the pain in the pit in my stomach was all too familiar when I heard the news of the shooting at what was supposed to be a safe space. It's the violence that we, the LGBTQ community live with every single day of our lives. Michelangelo Signorile wrote: "And it's a reminder of the animus against LGBT people that still exists, and the ever-present danger with which we still live." Yet we are your brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, cousins and parents.
This massacre happened during Pride Month and it's a reminder of why we have pride. Because haters literally kill us for who and how we love. And when they're not killing us, they're harassing us, firing us, denying us basic civil and human rights and then blaming us for the outcomes of what is done to us. That's why we have pride. No matter what someone does, whether motivated by any form of fear and hate, religious or otherwise, we still have worth.
When we walk down the street, we have to wonder if our clothing is too flamboyant, if our personalities are too floral, if we pass the test of gender norms that others might prefer, and if we are safe enough to hold hands with the person we love. When we are harassed on the street, we wonder if the persecutor is going to stop with the words that are meant to break our spirits, or will they try to break our bodies as well. This is why we have to show our pride; we will not let them break our spirit.
Pride is when we show that no matter what is thrown at us, we won't be ashamed. We have pride to show the world that we are not embarrassed about who we are. We get to hold hands, express our gender in the way we see fit, and wear whatever makes us feel good. Who we are in the bedroom, in a dance club, on the street and at our work place is not something to be ashamed of. We have pride to say to the world that this is us.
We have existed and persevered since the beginning of humanity and we've only just begun to be accepted. We have been denied our rights, we've been bashed by the police, survived a plague as politicians laughed and we continue to face violence everyday. But I take pride because we continue to thrive. Today, our people are elected to Congress, we are beloved characters in film and television, and the White House was lit in our colors when we achieved marriage equality. I'm proud of how far we've come and how much we've achieved.
This is why we have Pride month, Pride parades and pride in ourselves. Because we've come so far and still face so much. Next week, as most Americans continue about their daily lives, we'll continue to face violence, but we'll do it with our pride.