Love Must Win

I've been out of commission for longer than usual, and I admit that part of that had to do with the Orlando shooting.  Once that happened, it felt like writing about anything else was pointless, and that writing about the shooting felt just as pointless, because within two days it felt like everything that could and should be said had long been expressed.  And yet, it has meant too much to me, and to so many people I care about and feel kinship with, for me to ignore it.

I admit that when I first heard about the shooting, I thought "oh Lord.  Here's another."  I just wanted to shove it out of mind.  I didn't want to unpack it and explore the personal significance of this act, and that this happened at a gay club.  And it wouldn't be that difficult to push this out of my mind really, to distract myself and move on.   This world is full of distractions and we as Americans are great at giving into them.  Food, sex, television, alcohol, drugs, sensationalism.  All of these are distractions, and I avail myself of a number of them.  Why look at this and feel real feelings about this when there is pain everywhere and we feel pointless to stop it?  It's just as easy to grab a slice of pizza, or have a shot, or change the channel.

And there's another reason it could be very easy to brush off this act of violence (after showing the appropriate amount of outward sadness so that people don't think I'm callous).  It's a sad, but true fact, that I am becoming deadened to violence.

Aren't we all?  We hear numbers on the news, shootings, violent beatings, tremendous acts of hatred.  At what point did these living human beings become somehow "fictionalized" in my mind?  Is it a defense mechanism?  Surely.  Is it partly from being inundated by violence from the media?  Yes.  Is it my duty to overcome this deadening of my senses?  To realize the truth and the importance of these people's lives?  Absolutely.  Because if we just think to ourselves "how sad" and then push it away so we don't have to deal with the reality of it?  Nothing will change.  Politicians will make pawns of them.  The news media will sensationalize them.  And some people will own this violence as if it were there's.

All of these avoid the fact that these very real people are gone and have left very real people with a massive sense of loss.   I cannot claim to know every complexity behind what happen.  I only know that this was a crime of hate, targeted at gay people (but believe me, the man didn't need to be an Isis sympathizer to feel hatred and fear towards gay people, as there are many people who do that and rationalize it by saying they are Christian).  As a gay person myself, I felt it important to pay respect to the people who were out living there truth on the night they died.  To make their lives as real as they could be for myself.  To mourn them, and to weep for the people left behind.

I went to the vigil at The Stonewall Inn, and while it was a volatile event, full of a wide variety of emotions, I am so glad I went.  I was able to get right into the heart of the crowd, about one hundred feet from the speakers.  Yes, It threatened to become a political rally other than an act of remembrance and respect, and there were moments when I thought that some of the angrier people in the crowd were going to lash out and bring about more violence (these things have a way of feeding on each other.  "You hit me, I will hit someone else) but I was grateful that in spite of the anger and fear, that love and hope and respect won out.  Because as people we owe it to ourselves to feel all the emotions that these events stir in us.  And I can only hope that we can feel all of those emotions and still choose to love.  Because without the understanding of what happened, without the reaching out, it is too easy to dismiss what happened.  It is too easy to go on as before.  But without the choosing of love, it is too easy to devolve into more lashing out.

I do want to share a couple of the pieces related to the tragedy that have moved me and speak to the truth of the loss and what we must take from it far better than I can.  The first is a small speech from Stephen Colbert:

The second is a beautiful piece by Justin Torres printed in The Washington Post entitled In Praise of Latin Night at the Queer Club.

Joe Hartman