“Do not fret yourself of evildoers; do not be jealous of those who do wrong. For they shall soon wither like the grass, and like the green grass fade away.” Psalm 37 vs. 1-2.
“The wicked draw their sword and bend their bow to strike down the poor and needy, to slaughter those who are upright in their ways. Their sword shall go through their own heart, and their bow shall be broken.” Psalm 37 vs. 15-16
I don’t know where to begin. So much is going through my head. There is so much I want to say, so much I want to express, but I don’t know where to begin.
The verses from Proverbs above were recited at an interfaith vigil for the victims of Orlando that I attended this evening. Those specific verses resonated with me and hit home.
They named off each person who died and one person each held up a picture of a victim tonight. I held up one of the pictures. After each name was read, the rang the church bell once for each victim. It was incredibly moving.
I found out about the massacre Sunday morning when I got an alert on my phone from Facebook letting me know that my friend in Orlando was safe. When I opened the alert, it gave vague information; that there was a terrorist attack in Orlando, but that my friend had checked into Facebook’s alert system to notify his family and friends that he was safe. Then I got on the news and my heart sank. Then my newsfeed became saturated with posts about the attack.
I spent the rest of the day crying. The worst shooting massacre in our country’s history, targeted at a bar filled with people celebrating the anniversary of the beginning of their liberation. Enjoying being themselves in, what they had always thought was, a safe space. A sanctuary.
Monday, I continued to cry throughout the day. I eventually reached the point of numbness. Today my mind started to clear and I could actually start to think about what had happened. Think about the state of our country.
As I was sitting in the church this evening, I remembered the bombing of a Target bathroom because of their early stance on transgender individuals using the restroom that they identify with. Another act of terror.
As I’m writing this, I’m thinking about the current climate of our country. We could, in theory, elect a man this fall who promotes hate and violence by the things he says and by his actions, to the highest office in the country.
Thinking about the violence against people of color, against transgender people, against the rest of the LGB community this year alone I wonder: how are we so much different than the countries in the middle east who imprison and put to death those who are part of the LGBT+ community? The only difference between us and them is that our government isn’t locking us up. But we have politicians who are telling us that the individuals who were murdered this weekend reaped what they sewed for being perverts. These are people who were elected to office to govern our country.
2016 has been a year for the record books. State after state, even the federal government, passes or attempts to pass one anti-LGBT legislation after another. From “bathroom bills” to so called “religious freedom” bills.
I’m not angry. I don’t think I will get to the angry stage. I don’t have an angry side of myself. My heartaches. My head aches. My soul aches. I feel like the people who spread fear and hate are building a bonfire and dousing it with lighter fluid and we’re just one match away from a full on mass genocide of anyone who isn’t white, cisgender, heterosexual, and Christian.
My heart aches less, though, after attending the service tonight. I find great solace in G-d. I don’t know what the afterlife holds for us immediately after we die, but I know that if history is any indicator; we will, as an oppressed group, as any oppressed group, will rise up and be victorious.
I feel like the LGBT+ community became complacent after marriage was legalized nationally. We let our guard down. I feel like the transgender and non-gender conforming community was forgotten about, until the bathroom bills started rolling out. I’ve long been a proponent of separating the gender minorities from the sexual orientation (separating the “T” from “LGBT”). Because so often sexual orientation and gender identity are confused and mixed up.
As I was sitting in the church this evening I realized, we can’t do this alone. We are all being targeted. We need each other. We need to stand together in solidarity for one another. Forget that we’re constantly confused for one another. We need to embrace each other as a community and back each other up.
One other thing, before I go. I was speaking to my coworkers at the pharmacy last night after we closed and they both said “this could never happen in Iowa.” That has been stuck in my brain all day. The thing is, it COULD happen in Iowa. It could happen anywhere. The world is changing, and we don’t know whether it’s going to be for the good or the bad; there’s still a lot of influence that needs to be made. I was too tired to say anything to them, so I let it be. However, now it’s out there in the world. So we need to get over all the arguments and issues we have in our own community: the racism, the misogyny, and so forth and stand together. Stand strong. We need not a massacre to unite us. We should be united because want and need to be.
I’m going to end this post by listing the names of those murdered.
Stanley Almodovar III, 23 years old
Oscar A. Aracena-Montero, 26 years old
Antonio Davon Brown, 29 years old
Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, 24 years old
Luis Omar-Capo, 20 years old
Cory James Connell, 21 years old
Anthony Luis Laureanodisla, 25 years old
Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25 years old
Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22 years old
Paul Terrell Henry, 41 years old
Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19 years old
Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32 years old
Brenda Lee Marques McCool, 49 years old
Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25 years old
Akyra Murray, 18 years old
Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 25 years old
Amanda Alvear, 25 years old
Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33 years old
Darryl Roman Burt II, 29 years old
Angel L. Candelario-Padro, 28 years old
Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, 31 years old
Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25 years old
Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32 years old
Mercedes Marisol Flores, 26 years old
Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22 years old
Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40 years old
Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30 years old
Juan Chevez Martinez, 25 years old
Kimberly Morris, 37 years old
Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32 years old
Enrique I. Rios, Jr., 25 years old
Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36 years old
Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35 years old
Edward Sotomayor, Jr., 34 years old
Martin Benitez Torres, 33 years old
Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37 years old
Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, 50 years old
Miguel Angel Honorato, 30 years old
Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37 years old
Frank Hernandez, 27 years old
Jean Carlos Nives Rodriguez, 27 years old
Christopher Sanfeliz, 24 years old
Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33 years old
Luis S. Vielma, 22 years old
Jerald Arthur Wright, 31 years old
Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21 years old
Luis Daniel Conde, 39 years old
Yimary Rodriguez Sullivan, 24 years old
May their memories be a blessing.
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