Never Forget

Never Forget

One year ago today, forty nine queer lives were lost in the Orlando Pulse night club shooting. Many of them were young. Most of them were Latinx. All of them just wanted to go out and have a good time.

Being queer has always been dangerous. Whether you’re out or not. In many places it’s still a crime. Sometimes punishable by death. Even in America we’re seeing backlash against our fight for equal rights. The new administration has and still plans to reverse what little progress we’ve made, and has encouraged an increase in hate crimes against the queer community.

Since Marsha Johnson threw the first high heel through the window of the Stonewall Inn, June has been a time of pride and action for the LGBTQ community. Even so, the month is marked with the anniversary of the tragedy in Orlando, Florida.

Thanks to America’s anti-Islam agenda, many innocent people were blamed and targeted after the attack. Because of course one American man isn’t capable of committing a hate crime.

He wasn’t alone. His accomplices were hate, bigotry, stereotyping, and queerphobia.

It was not because he was mentally ill. It was not because he was Muslim. It was not because he himself was gay. Even if any of these are true, they are not what caused him to take his gun into a gay night club on Latin Night.

It was a hate crime. That’s it.

I can’t even comprehend why people would then want to counter hate with more hate. Why use this massive tragedy against one group to fuel your own hatred of another group?

There’s a lot of hate in this world right now. Across the earth lives are being lost in unimaginable numbers. It seems every day brings on a new tragedy. It’s heartbreaking knowing that while some of us eat and work and sleep, others are dying and being killed.

Love is not a cliche but it’s treated like one. Existence is not mundane but it’s taken for granted.

Take care of each day as it comes. And take care of each other. Be aware. Learn. Love.

Be an active part of the solution.

Today we remember the 49 lives lost to an act of hate. We gather to remember. We light candles to remember. We walk to remember. But don’t walk away and forget. It’s painful, but we need to keep the memories as long as we can. So we can continue the fight.

Never stop fighting.

“Candles for Orlando” By Tonie Bear — Burnt Pine

Candles for Orlando, June 15, 2016 Five hundred, twenty-five thousand, six hundred minutes. What happens in the span of a year is a blur of motion: feelings smeared across a moving train, purple sorrow, red hurt, green anger, and yellow fear. It’s a whirlwind of emotion, pain twisting around regret and spiraling into depression. But […]

via “Candles for Orlando” By Tonie Bear — Burnt Pine

My First Bar Crawl

Friday night I went out with some friends to celebrate my 21st birthday. We stopped in a few bars, where I brandished my ID with pride only to get funny looks from the bouncers who I guessed thought I was an 18 year old with a fake ID. Apparently, I look a lot younger than I am.

But I was let in without trouble and got to celebrate and get tipsy with some of my favorite people. They had to do a bit of babysitting as I got paranoid about getting blackout drunk. Since I’m so small for my age, I figured one Sex on the Beach was enough to knock me out.

My roommate, who was planning the night for me, had asked if I wanted to go into the gay club at the end of the street. A few weeks ago I would have been beyond excited to finally walk in there, but after the mass shooting in the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, I was afraid.

By virtue of having lived in America for 21 years, I understand that when something like that happens once, it’s going to happen again.

I went back and forth about it and finally agreed that we could at least walk in.

It’s hard to even describe the feeling emanating from that space. The music was loud enough to feel in my chest as we walked in. The dim and colored lights flashed and spun as a myriad of people crammed onto the dance floor. Rad and brightly colored hair styles caught my eye. Bodies letting it all out. Limbs and hands and heads and hair flailing and swinging in the scattered light. Smiles from people feeling free, grimaces of concentration in the heat of the moment. Couples stealing aside to kiss in corners and doorways. Friends gathered around tables and the bar laughing and singing along. And the air so queer I could feel it. There’s a certain taste to it that I just can’t place. A feeling of finally being able to be your true self and knowing everyone else is feeling that too. A long-awaited lack of judgement for how we dress, who we kiss, how we wear our hair and decorate our faces.

When we walked upstairs and I looked down at the dance floor, at all the colors and smears of movement, I got really excited. I’ve never been a fan of parties and public dancing, but this place made me want to jump in and join everyone else. I felt as if I could swing in and start dancing without any self consciousness. Maybe it was the two drinks, but at the very least there was something about the place that made me feel welcome. I’m pretty sure it was the queerness.

But at the same time, looking down at the mass of colorful bodies, I started to wonder.

If someone walked through the door with an assault rifle, who would be the first ones to fall to the ground bleeding?

Who would be the first to run screaming to the back?

Who would be the first to die, and who the last, and how many of us would be taken to the hospital in ambulances, and how many of our names would be written on stars in dark nights of tears?

I couldn’t stay any longer. As soon as we left I felt an ache in my chest–I wanted so much to go back and drink the air that was part of my world.

But I’m never going to forget about Pulse and wonder how long it will be before my friends and family and I can feel safe.

Vigil

Light a candle in the wind to watch it disappear.

We hug. We cry. We read the names. I’m really glad I’m here.

The friends and family that I love just fighting to survive,

I’ve never felt so dead inside yet never so alive.