Monday, June 13, 2016

Don't Stop the Dancing

I’m not a great dancer. I can be awkward. I can be off beat. I can’t really Whip or Nae Nae. Still, despite my rhythm-challenged nature, one of the first places I felt I really belonged was a gay nightclub. I suspect that’s how it was for many of us LGBT folks. Be it a little hole in the wall bar or sweaty metropolitan dance club, these places help us become ourselves. At times they were like walking into heaven. All of these people, together, dancing. All of these people, together, being exactly who they are. All of these people, together, just gay as hell.

In the wake of the Orlando gay nightclub shootings yesterday, that sense of safety has been shaken. The one place we could feel truly free, to dance to love to kiss to be. Someone else’s hatred gets taken out on innocents once again. As we’ve seen at schools. At colleges. At movie theaters. At churches. No place can shield us from those who wish to do us harm and have easy access to weapons of mass destruction.

Like you, I was glued to the news for parts of yesterday, hoping to make sense of the senseless. What struck me is as soon as the suspected shooter’s religion was revealed, talk abruptly shifted from “hate” to “terrorism.” And once the T-word gets brought up, nothing else seems to matter. But that these were LGBT people, that this was an LGBT club, that matters. That matters deeply.

Say it was a gay club. Say it was a hate crime. Because it was. Could it also have been a home-grown act of terror? Of course. But one does not cancel out the other.

This man can be a homophobe and a lone wolf and a wife beater and all kinds of other terrible things – all at once. He is not indicative of anything except the impotent rage and entitled dissatisfaction that too often bubbles over for these kinds of angry men into horrific violence. In Newton. In Charleston. In Aurora. In Columbine. In too many American cities, time after time.

But now that the T-word has been invoked, there can be no talk of gun control in this country. There can be no questioning why a man who was twice investigated by the FBI can legally purchase his arsenal of death. There can be no reflection on how little we’ve tried to do as a nation to limit our epidemic of gun violence. There can only be fear of the unknown and tweets from ignorant men with designs on the most powerful position in the world.

But now that the T-word has been invoked, there can be no discussion about the continuing discrimination against LGBT people in this country. There can be no pointing out that the politicians who howl that trans people in bathrooms are a public threat are now disingenuously offering up thoughts and prayers. There can be no acknowledgment that too often extremists of all stripes use religion, be it Islam or Christianity, to justify hate. They’re too busy erasing LGBT people as victims in order to ensure we’re all properly scared of some “other” group of marginalized people.

But you can’t erase us from our own tragedy. And you can’t ignore the multi-faceted nature of this crime. It was not an accident that it happened during Pride month.

This is why we celebrate Pride in the first place. This is how we fight the darkness. It’s not about the rainbow tchotchkes or glitter explosions or the go-go dancers. Sure, those things help make it more fabulous. But it’s really about being proud of ourselves, even when no one else was. It’s saying you can’t stamp out our joy with your hatred. It’s about the bravery it still takes to simply exist as a lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender person in this world.

So, this Pride, let’s dance our little gay hearts out. Because we can. Because no amount of hatred can ever stop us.


Anonymous said...

Yesterday's horrific events are still mind boggling to comprehend. So many innocent people lost, and for what? I watched the news on and off yesterday, like you, trying to make sense of it and I finally had to turn it off because I was so frustrated that news stations were over and over and over refusing to discuss this as a hate crime or in some cases even refer to the location as a gay nightclub or interview those of the lgbt community. It's maddening to hear that this terrible event is being dismissed as a hate crime because, I think, it makes people in our country uncomfortable to be faced with the fact that our society isn't perfect. Everything isn't hunky dory just because we have our right to marry. Homophobia, sexism, racism all still exist and the only way to make this country better for everyone is to acknowledge that and work together to understand each other and improve the country for everyone.

Heather Anne Hogan said...

I love you, dear friend. Thank you for this.

linster said...

Beautiful. Thank you, my friend.

Anonymous said...

beautifully written, and so well expressed. thank you so much for this.

Anonymous said...

Well said.

Sally A Johns said...

So much love for you Dorothy, thank you!

Carmen SanDiego said...

I love you so much

Helena said...

Thank you for this excellent piece. And please always know that so many of us love your blog and appreciate all the effort. With love to you from South Africa.