June 14, 2016
If you are reading this close to when I write it, you know that forty-nine people were just killed at Pulse nightclub in Orlando. Another fifty-three were injured. Everyone I know is grieving and in pain. The persons attacked were mostly young, and latinx; it was a gay nightclub and undoubtedly a hate crime. Recent news reports suggest the shooter might have been struggling to accept his own natural proclivities (he had previously attended Pulse with entirely different intentions). He was likely consumed by self-loathing and shame.
It’s been a tremendously bad week in the news. I was already struggling with the injustice of the sentencing in the Stanford rape case, and with reports of twenty years of abuse toward women at Profiles Theater in Chicago. Talking about the former brought about a panic attack.
We are porous creatures, and on the regular we have to process large scale tragedies. They enter our bloodstreams. Between the news and the internet, everything that happens anywhere can feel immediately, viscerally present. We end up wrestling with fear, confusion, shock, anxiety – especially if we identify with the victims. This part is also true for all Americans: When I kiss my person good night, it is with the knowledge that anyone could walk into a nearby public space tomorrow, with a gun, and end one of our lives. For any reason. For no reason.
When I last saw Walter, he was searching for speakers on the subject of environmental activism in the age of the anthropocene. He mentioned there’s an idea circulating, among concerned agitators, that our next phase of activism on this matter might be mourning. A mourning that does not preclude further actions, but which does acknowledge this big picture: we might have already lost.
I can’t type that last sentence without feeling anger, resentment, frustration, despair, disgust, and disappointment.
So, what to do?
Emotions are built to lead us to action.
This can lead to great, modest, or terrible behavior.
There will always be people struggling with negative emotions.
They will naturally want to take some sort of action to express those emotions.
We make it really easy for that action to be legally purchasing a military grade assault rifle.
Here’s my own personal Quick and Handy Guide to Activism:
1. Take Care Of Yourself
2. Love and Be Loved
3. Determine What You Want To Do (as always, set Smart, Actionable Goals)
4. Do That
You can’t skip steps 1 or 2.
Sending my love to every queer person everywhere.