A Queer Reflection on Orlando

In light of the horrific events from last weekend, I was originally planning to write a piece critiquing the media and politicians response to it. I was going to decry a wide-spread ‘straight-washing’ and erasure of the victim’s queer identities to serve an anti-Islamic narrative and to appeal to a conservative, perhaps anti-LGBT+ audience. Ultimately, arguing that to ignore their sexuality and/or gender identity is to ignore the very real problem leading to this attack: an often homophobic, heteronormative society. But this detached, analytical response does not seem right. In fact, few reports thus far have seemed “right”. Perhaps as a bisexual man, I am too close or too emotional regarding the situation. But, whilst the media and politicians argue about gun control or terrorism or whichever issue they see as relevant, the queer community is in a state of shock and of mourning.

After the past few days, it almost seems clichéd, but I am hurt, I am scared and, most of all, I am angry. I am hurt that forty-nine innocent people were shot and killed for little more than being who they are. I am hurt that on Pride weekend, they were murdered simply for celebrating themselves. I am scared that people like me were attacked, that given time or circumstance it could easily have been me or my friends. I am scared that after huge victories for our community, everything seems so fragile again. And I am so angry that their lives meant so little to that one man and so little to others who appropriate their deaths to serve their own twisted narrative.

As a young, western, queer man I was lucky. Beyond some mild teasing and bullying, I haven’t had to feel the pain and fear that those before me have fought through. Until now. But this will pass. What happened in Florida was tragic and heart-breaking. My thoughts and prayers are with everyone whose life was snatched away and with their friends and families in this time. But to let life stop is to let them win. The queer community has struggled, fought and survived before and we shall again. Vigils around the world, such as the immense gathering in Soho, have shared their respects for those affected. Crowds in Orlando have assembled to give blood and to help those that were in the attack. This shooting was planned to break us and to inspire fear yet it has only proven that we stand united as a community and that we will survive.

It is a scary time. Over the past few days I’ve felt that fear and that sadness, but please don’t let it win. Go to your favourite queer space, your favourite club, your favourite drag show. Go to Pride next weekend. Hold those from Pulse in your hearts; be angry, be hurt, but please don’t give in. We’re a community, we stand united and, even in this awful time, we will survive.

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