I’m heartbroken. Almost a week has passed since the worst modern mass shooting in US history and I still cannot get this horrible feeling off my chest. Work is definitely a good and productive distraction, but the second I take my eyes off my editing software and turn to social media, I am reminded that the American consciousness is deeply disturbed.
Whatever is left of my muddled faggot heart is with the victims, their friends and families, and with my queer/latinx fam all over the world. As if living at the intersection of the two identities wasn’t already hard enough, we now have to deal with the pain and the anger that comes from losing 50 of our brothers and sisters. 50.
I moved to NYC almost a year ago from the conservative state of Texas, where I spent the majority of my formative years, because I was looking for a place that accepted me for who I am and allowed me to explore my identity. In an unexpected turn of events, same-sex marriage became legalized within 2 or 3 days of me getting here. I was ecstatic. Not only did I feel like my personal world was getting better, I also felt like the world at large was getting better. I was so proud of America. So so proud.
Then this year, Donald Drumpf became the Republican Party’s presidential nominee. The very man that called my people rapists and murderers has now been given a fair shot at running the nation and deciding the fate of millions of immigrants. Simultaneously, the nation collectively decided that it was time to throw a huge tantrum over the fact that sometimes transgender women need to use public bathrooms. [As if transgender women haven’t already been using public bathrooms for years with zero casualties. Also, Caitlyn Jenner won a “woman of the year” award last year. But you know, whatever.] Countless of politicians and average bigoted citizens took to social media to express their concern for the safety of heterosexual people. “The children! We must protect the children!” said the same Republicans that didn’t give a single damn when 20 children were violently murdered at Sandy Hook. I get it, America. You are selective haters. You hate me. You hate Latinos and you hate the Ls and the Gs and the Bs and the Ts. I GET IT.
Every mass shooting under our belt is absolutely shameful and horrible, but I know I’m not alone when I say the massacre that happened in Orlando felt extremely personal. When I lived in Austin, Texas, I frequented a queer friendly nightclub that hosted the best nightlife event every TuezGayz. And as Ilana Glazer would say, “In da clurb, we all fam.” I jokingly said maybe a couple of hundred times that this party was basically like Sunday mass to me. The space, sacred. It cleansed me. It freed me from all my burdens and stresses, my crippling anxiety, and any ounce of self-hate I felt sometimes. I know how Orlando feels about Pulse because that is exactly how I felt about TuezGayz at Barbarella. As I struggle to find a new place to call home in New York, the thought that Orlando could have been any of us absolutely crushed me. We are not safe. We are all Orlando.
I’m angry. Why is it that people are trying to re-brand this hate crime as radical Islam? Why is it that some people are saying that this “isn’t a gun problem” and that “this is an attack on America”? Why is it that military grade weaponry is easily accessible to people on watch lists? Why is it that days after the tragedy, Republicans are still actively blocking legislation that protects LGBTQ citizens? Why is it that Kim Kardashian is already nude on another cover? Why is it that men feel entitled to women’s bodies and lash out in mass violence when they feel rejected? Why do we create and nurture a culture that allows for this behavior to happen? Why can’t we change our gun laws to protect our people the same way we changed air travel after 9/11? Why is it that everyone added a French flag filter to their profile photos but hardly anyone is trying to understand the complexity of this case? Why is it that NO ONE FROM MY FAMILY HAS TRIED TO REACH OUT?
I’ve spent a lot of time out of my life trying to play safe. Trying to be passable. Sometimes I’m afraid that I have no idea who I am because I express myself in a way that, in my head, guarantees my safety. In the workplace, on the streets, at home…
I’m done. I’m tired of hiding. I’m tired of this hatred towards my community. My lifestyle. My spirit. I know I can’t change the world with a personal essay. I can’t change the way people think. A collective shift in the American consciousness has to happen if we want to get better as a nation, but it all has to start at the individual level. I invite you to join me. Be as loud and queer as you want! Dance a lot. Kiss a lot. Fuck a lot. Wear that fucking crop top and those mother fucking high heels and head out to the club and be you! Be as butch as you want. Reject the binaries! Celebrate your life. Because you never know when some asshole is going to take it away. Celebrate your body. Because you’re perfect. Educate your family. Because sometimes families are the ones that cause the most pain. Educate your friends. Even those that claim to be enlightened and full of good intentions (Nick Jonas). Our work as queer people is never done. Not until they stop killing us. Not until we are given the space and respect we deserve. Not until our lives are considered worthy of occupying and sharing this beautiful planet.
Until then, know that I see you. I love you. I’m with you.