On Saturday I flew to Washington, D.C. for a couple days of meetings. I had Saturday night free, so I made plans to meet up with a dear friend for dinner. It was Pride Weekend in DC and the streets were jammed with people, so I felt lucky that I managed to get a taxi. We went to a restaurant that was on the route of the Capital Pride Parade. We’d missed the parade but there were plenty of revelers still out, joyfully celebrating love.
I woke up on Sunday morning in my hotel room, disoriented and jet-lagged. I grabbed my phone to look at the time and that’s when I saw them…dozens of breaking news alerts:
As I scrolled through them, they got worse…
Because of the time difference, I waited as long as I could to text my brother and his boyfriend (about 30 seconds, sorry guys). I watched the news and tried not to throw up. Then I put myself together and went to my meetings, but my heart was with Orlando and my family.
When my brother first came out, the fear that someone would hurt him because he was gay overwhelmed me. It was only a year after the death of Matthew Shepard, and even though we lived in a supposedly more tolerant city I still worried all the time. It’s subsided as we’ve grown older, but on Sunday that anxiety roared back.
I don’t mean to make this about me – the fear I have is nothing compared to my LGTBQIA friends. I am a straight, white woman. No one spits at me or calls out slurs when I walk down the street holding my husband’s hand. No one thinks I should be dead because of who I love, or how I identify, or who I know I am inside.
I was watching the morning news yesterday and a picture of the murderer came on the screen. Annabel asked, “Who’s that guy?” I told her that he was a bad guy who’d shot and killed a lot of people. “Again?” she said.
What is happening to this country? Why do people get more fired up about the death of a gorilla than the deaths of children, of black people, of LGTBQIA people? Why do people care more about their right to own something instead of someone’s right to live?
I’m so tired of being afraid that the next time this happens, someone I love will die. I’m so tired of writing the words, “THE NEXT TIME THIS HAPPENS.” This isn’t the world I want for my children. Why can’t we stop this?
After my meetings on Sunday, I went to the Capital Pride Festival to make a donation to help the victims in Orlando. I expected to encounter a somber scene, but instead I saw people hugging, dancing, and defiantly celebrating who they are. Who they love.
I know that love will win…I just wish it wasn’t taking so long.