The past few Sunday mornings here in Madison have been pretty nice and tranquil. But as I write this post on this Sunday morning, the skies are rather gloomy and a thunderstorm is moving through. I suppose it’s suitable for this Sunday morning, for I heard the news this Sunday morning. And I feel… truly sad.
I’m talking about the news of a tragedy in Orlando, Florida. No, not the tragedy from the night before, although that is certainly heartbreaking news in itself (I won’t dismiss the sad gravity of that news). I’m talking about an incident that happened during the very early hours this morning. Since I try to refrain from going into gory details on this site, I will advise you to click here for details about this tragedy. I will say this: Several are dead, several others are injured, and the pain from this awful moment will probably linger in the minds of the survivors and witnesses for a long time to come.
Hearing the news early on, all I heard was it happened in a night club in Orlando. And when you think “night club,” you think of a place where one lets their hair down to have a drink or two, meet friends, perhaps meet a new acquaintance, dance the night away, and generally have a good time. It’s certainly not the type of place where a tragedy of any sort should happen.
Then, I heard a later report: This tragedy happened at a gay nightclub.
When hearing this, my mind naturally wanted to put two and two together: Someone with hate in their heart and evil on their mind towards the LGBT community did this (and during the month of LGBT pride, no less). Of course, it’s not a certainty as of yet that prejudice towards the LGBT community was this person’s motivation. Still, it’s far too easy for people of all stripes to make early assumptions like that these days.
So, I tried to put my assumptions aside and started to check out my e-mail messages and Twitter feed, as I tended to do first thing in the morning. And then my mind really tried to put two and two and two more together: A gay nightclub. In Orlando. Oh, my god! Someone in my Twitter feed lives and works in Orlando!
I immediately thought that, no, it’s possible she was nowhere near that club in Orlando on Saturday night/Sunday morning. And sure enough, when I scrolled through my Twitter timeline, there she was tweeting that… no, she and her boyfriend were not at the club in question. But, naturally, her heart is truly breaking over the tragedy and how it could have ever happened to the LGBT community, and Orlando’s in particular, that she’s a proud part of. (For the record, I will withhold this tweep’s identification on here as I don’t want to single her out and make her sad any further.)
I’m in agreement with my Twitter friend on this: This tragedy is… truly heartbreaking and devastating. It’s devastating for everyone directly involved and affected, for sure, but also for those with a connection, be it tangent or direct in nature, with the broad LGBT community. I sincerely offer my thoughts, prayers, well wishes, and happy thoughts to those in Orlando — the city as a whole and its LGBT family in particular — as they pull together and pick up the pieces in this tragedy’s aftermath. I sincerely hope, strange as this may sound to some at this moment (or maybe it isn’t strange to say?), that this tragedy will strengthen the LGBT community further. Sticks and stones (and, obviously, far worse weaponry) will break our bones. Names, curses, and bigoted laws will be pointed toward us as well. But these moments will only serve to strengthen our collective spine and reinforce our collective resolve. Let’s stay strong together as we live openly as our true selves; if we do, there will be brighter days ahead. For all of us.
On a side note: Male Mode Me is part of my company’s safety response team. A couple of years ago, we sat down together for a safety training session, during which we watched a brief instructional video (roughly 10 minutes in length, if I recall correctly) giving tips and advice on what actions to take should a violent person (specifically an… *ahem* active shooter) appear on the premises. For an instructional video, it was a pretty good one, giving wise advice on what and what not to do in such a situation. But it also depicted situations that are truly frank and unsettling. I couldn’t get the images out of my mind the rest of that day. They didn’t leave my mind either last month, when our company arranged time away from their work duties for every employee watch the video, regardless of whether we were part of the safety team or not. No, there was not an immediate cause for concern on the company’s part for making this mandatory move; just a wise decision to enlighten everyone about what to do. I believe the video is out on YouTube somewhere, but I won’t link it here as it’s just far to sobering to share through this blog. But if you are employed at a multi-employee company or frequent public places, it’s a pretty important video to watch. I believe it’s searchable under “Houston Police Department” (they are the ones who put out this video).