Saturday, June 18, 2016

The Orlando Shooting – one week on, by Renae Kaye

Last week I felt the need to express my anger over the Orlando Pulse Nightclub shooting.  The fire was raging through me, and I felt a need to say, “Hey – I’m not okay with what just happened.”  Today, not quite seven days later, I’m still feeling that rage, but the grief has started too.
Several times in the last week I’ve broken down and cried in front of my computer.  I don’t want to do that, but I think the victims deserve it.  I could shy away from news reports showing their names, faces and stories about them, but I don’t want them to be just faceless victims.  They may be 18,265kms (11,350mi) away, but it doesn’t mean that what happened hasn’t impacted on me.
I’ve watched and listened to a lot of reactions over the event and I’ve been saddened, strengthened and (unfortunately) disgusted by some of them.
One reaction I’ve been witnessing from my friends, and in private conversations with them, is fear.  “Why were we targeted?” they ask me.  They can all too clearly see that it could’ve been them.  They attend gay nightclubs, or LGBT events.  They celebrate with their friends.  And they’re scared that it could happen to them.  Even those who live in a different country are scared. 
I’m torn in shreds by this, because there is nothing I can say to comfort this fear.  Yes, it could happen anywhere.  The worst thing about an event like this is the copycats who try to do it wherever they are.
Some friends are filled with rage and vow to do what they can to change the law, change society, change, change, change.  I stand and applaud this.
However, some are filled with an overwhelming sense of despair, that nothing they can do will make people understand or change their actions.  I bleed at this.  Because I understand this as well.  I understand thinking that you’re a lone voice against a cacophony of noise and screaming.  How do we even know where to start?
Unfortunately, I’ve also come across dismissive responses in the last week.  People who’ve said, “What does it matter to me?”  This gives me a migraine, because it matters to all of us.  When do you feel empathy with a group of people?  Do we have to be American before we feel empathy with the Pulse victims?  To we have to be LGBT?  Do we need to be American and LGBT?
To me, there is only one thing we need to be to feel empathy for the Pulse victims.  Human.
And there is something we all can do.  Stand together.
One thing that happened over this past week that I was unhappy with, was the dissent within certain sections of the online LGBT community.  I saw people tearing others down for their response to the tragedy.  It was minor, but it was there.  And not just one person.  I understand their frustration at those who they believe are not acting appropriately, but at a time when we need to stand together, it was sad to see people voicing anger at those who are on the same “side” as them.  Whoever first coined the phrase, “United we stand, divided we fall” was spot on.  We need to put aside petty differences in order to tackle the big issue.
Standing together sounds difficult, but it’s not.  And it’s something we all can do.  It doesn’t matter what religion we are, what country we come from, what gender we are, or what money we have.  Our biggest strength lies in communicating to others that we do not support this action that led to 49 innocent people being gunned down.  Whether you believe in gun control or not.  Whether you believe in Allah or not.  Whether you believe in same-sex marriage or not.  They are all things we can disagree on, but at the same time stand together and say “This action was not right.”
You may think you’re no one.  But you have a way of communicating.  Whether it be your voice or your words, you can communicate to others that you oppose the actions of the gunman in Orlando and believe a change is needed.
Why do gay nightclubs exist?  I’ve seen a lot of people speak of their fear in expressing themselves in public, but how nightclubs such as Pulse allow them hold the hand of their same-sex partner.  Why is this?  Because in public they fear they are a lone voice against a large tide.  Once inside the nightclub, they feel supported.  So let’s voice our feelings over Pulse, and support each other.  There may be people around you who feel the same as you, and are too afraid to speak out. 
So please, don’t sit and do nothing.  If you can do something big to prevent this from ever happening again, do something big.  If you can do something to help the victims and their families, then do something.  But if you think you are powerless and can do nothing, please, don’t give up.  Speak up.  Speak out.  Together and in support of each other. For we are all one people.

How to contact Renae:
Twitter:  @renaekkaye

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