I guess I should preface this post with the fact that I left my hotel at 3:17 this morning to catch a 5:45am flight and had to go though immigration and customs, so I might be cranky. However, if you follow me on Twitter, you will see that this morning I jumped into a word battle between three people who I have always immensely respected when they spoke on topics or life. Now, one is Thumper and the other a friend, and I am on their side of the “battle” against someone who probably won’t talk to me again after this post and, by knowing this in advance, I have to be okay with that even though I really don’t want that to happen because I actually like this guy a lot.
See, to sum it all up, he has basically been saying that the Orlando shooting had nothing to do with the fact the people were gay and everything to do with the fact that the shooter was crazy, because, why else would a non crazy person do such a thing? I agree that there was likely some mental instability, but the murderer in this case held a pretty normal life up until he pulled the trigger and that does not typically define crazy. From what we know, it was his hatred toward two men kissing that enacted a rage within him, though new evidence might suggest he was raging against his own thoughts.
However, that is a moot point to me because I really don’t want to give the shooter more thought than I have to but there is zero doubt in my mind that he targeted those people because he assumed they were gay and that they were embracing, living, and loving in a gay club. This one hit me particularly hard because of the targetedness of it. In other mass shootings, there was a randomness of the victims or the acts that I used to wash it away in my head versus being scared to go to a movie or eat in a cafe. In the specific shootings like Columbine or Sandy Hook, it, in my view, seemed to be an act against the system versus a hatred of first graders, though one could argue the bullied kids did seek specific victims. So while those hurt me as a human, they didn’t strike me in my soul like this one did.
What got me the most was that inside all of these words about the mental state of the shooter, a subtext came out about those of us who feel this pain making the victim’s pain about ourselves that basically said we had no right to take this so personal or to link this to our own lives. In addition, there was also the point made that I should never define myself by the words of others because I would never be happy and, while I agree with that, I do have a point to make.
First, attaching myself to this is possible, in my mind, because I am a card carrying double gold star wearing member of the homosexual community. I celebrate with the community as a whole when we have wins and I grieve with the community as a whole when we are stepped on. I have every right to take this personally because that man shot my people for being just like me and that makes me angry, sad, and, frankly a bit scared. The gay community is huge, but it’s also small in some ways because, as an example, I live five states away and am far older than most of the victims, but one of them was a dear friend of a friend and my friend is now grieving the loss inside my world. No, I did not know the victim at all aside from seeing a few Facebook posts, but the connection being just one away made me feel a bit more vulnerable and brought it that much closer.
To me, this was a further realization that, even though we are legally a couple, I will likely never have the chance to hold Axel’s hand in most public areas or to kiss him when something makes me happy because of the fear of the repercussions. See, for me, I used to say that because it was the fear off someone seeing me as who I am and those repercussions and now that I don’t give a fuck about that, it’s for a different kind of fear all together.`
Finally, on the part about the words of others. As a gay man, I have spent 45 years listening to strangers say who I am and how I love is wrong. I am one of the lucky ones in that nobody in my life who mattered ever said that to me and I was strong enough to rationize the words of others and not take it too personal, though there was always a bit that stung. Last year when the US made marriage legal, I thought maybe then the negativity would go away, but in the last year it’s harder and harder to watch the news when states are now creating laws to invalidate me and my rights. I have always been able to brush that off and rarely has it ever been said to me, which is mostly, I assume, because I look like everyone else to them. It still sucks and, if ANYTHING good of this can happen, I hope American’s will finally see this is more than about you where one puts his penis.
Again, none of this shocked me, but the fact that it came from a fellow kinkster stung especially hard because, as a group, who the fuck are we to judge anything?