It has been a hard time as of late, and all my other thoughts vanished after the news of Orlando made its way around the world. I have kept largely quiet and waited until my thoughts could gather, and this is what I present unto the world.
Last night there was a vigil in my city for the victims of Orlando, and I didn’t attend. I partly regret that decision but I have a massive personal aversion to the displaying of my emotions in a public place. However, I have had a candle lit in my house all day today. Do I think a candle that only I can see holds any symbolism? Yes, to me it does, because it’s brought it back to mind – not that it flees very far at the moment.
The tragedy that has befallen the community to which I belong is one that is being felt globally, because whilst news outlets decided to brandish this as an act of terrorism, it wasn’t. It was an act of hate, a hate crime, where 49 innocent lives were taken by someone who’s real reasons will most likely remain unknown. However, I have such an issue with this aversion to discussing the LGBTQI community in relation to this crime, that I feel an anger burn inside of me.
My anger comes from the fact that some people are ignoring who it happened to, and instead are focusing on ISIS, and radicalised Islam. I have an issue with most religions that have ancient doctrines, written by unknown people, translated by people with an agenda, and then preaching these words to the extreme. What I have more of an issue with is xenophobic attitudes, and also Islamophobic comments. Not all followers of Islam are these radicalised people who take lives, just like not all Christians are akin to the Knights Templar whom ravaged towns and villages, killed men, women and children by burning them at the stake because they were something other than Christian. It is a stupid comment to make.
But with anger put to one side, the sorrow has to take centre stage. We are a community blighted by persecution from the outside as well as within. We add extra labels of masc, fem, bear, twink, and then we hate against one another because of that. We are divided for the most part, trying to fit into a clique, because we’ve never been told anything different. We set ourselves apart, and then tragedy befalls us, and we rally together for one cause. But just how long will we be together as a community? It is something I have always thought and felt. We are so divided, and we act as if life is solved all too fast. One fight is won and the majority of us trapse off because we won.
Often, we leave people behind. We leave Trans people behind because that’s not our fight as gay men, we leave bisexual people behind because they’re just “greedy” or “bi now, gay later”, we leave our allies behind and then expect them to rush back, not thinking that maybe we should fight for the rights of people of colour too, or for women, or for the disabled. We are so caught up in what we want as an individual that we forget that we are stronger together. United we stand, divided we fall.
I personally feel that some of us have lost our way, or at least, never found the fire in our bellies to try to make the changes we need in this world. My next point is Pride. Pride is a wonderful thing to have in ourselves, its a celebration of who we are and we are certainly visible for one day, but that’s not right. We should be visible every day, and Pride should still be ultimately a political move on our part. I’m not going to call people to revolt or rebel, but where is the politics in it all? I find myself being an unlikely candidate for Queer Politics, but as my age advances, my glimpse into this field grows.
We need to use this union of our community to start the fight again. To eradicate hate towards us from the outside as well as from within. We should learn our lessons, and see that there is a long way to go. In the UK, we are probably more protected than our brothers and sisters in the US, but it doesn’t mean we are fully covered. There is still always such a long way to go and we are yet to attain that ultimate goal of full and total equality.
My heart goes out to all those who were lost and affected by the tragedy in Orlando, and my heart goes out to my LGBTQI brothers and sisters, and our true allies.