Yes, it has been two days since… well, we all know by now what happened early Sunday morning at that club in Orlando, Florida. And what have I noticed in these past two days? Well, I’ve noticed that a lot of people are really pissed off. That’s right, you heard what I spelled there (and I tend to make it a point to refrain from swearing on this blog). For sure, I’ve been seeing it on my Twitter feed, where it seems like one person I follow after another has voiced in one form or another, through Twitter or Facebook or whatever: People are pissed off.
They’re angry about the violent manner in which so many people lost their lives, as well as how the lives those who survived the incident as well as those of the relatives, friends, and acquaintances of both the dead and injured have been irrevocably changed. At least a few of those I’m following have some sort of direct connection to Orlando and/or those who lost their lives; their reactions have been very real and truly heartbreaking, enough for me to just want to reach into the screen, come out of the other end, and give them a hug and words of support and comfort.
They’re also angry about the laws of this land (or lack thereof) that allowed the perpetrator to… well, obtain what he thought he needed in order do what he did to so many innocent people. Extend that anger to the drive to the demand to rectify the laws to prevent similar tragedies in the future, not to mention what to call this latest tragedy, and it’s been a powderkeg that’s been exploding non-stop since Sunday.
And they’re really angry that this tragedy was directed at the LGBTQ community. Face it, our community, despite all the forward progress we have made over the years, is still hated by a notable cross-section of people — especially those who follow a really bent version of their professed religions (you know, the one that flippantly disregards the dictate to love one another). You noticed I use the word “religions” in that last sentence, because while there’s a big play-up in the media about the perpetrator’s own professed religion, there are those who profess another religion and follow another deity who actually relish this tragedy taking place. Yes, it’s called hate. And it’s rhetoric that’s downright dangerous. And if you don’t believe me that people are happy about this, well, read this report and this report and try not to feel disgust. (Seriously, you should be disgusted.)
And people just seem angry about the reaction from others. For one, some with a conservative mindset are joining in the mourning, but the general response to that from the LGBTQ community and their allies is one of, “Hey! Why are you offering sympathies when you’ve been making one attempt after another to discriminate us?! Why haven’t you been showing us this compassion before?!” Consider, too, that some consider the fact that the victims were LGBTQA as a mere afterthought, and you can understand the palpable anger from those in the LGBTQ community. There is angry on a political level as well, and not just in Washington and those who want to work there, as evidenced by this rather ugly verbal back-and-forth between two legislators here in Wisconsin.
So, yeah, people are pissed. And angry. And distraught. And sad. And any similar emotions that would apply to this tragedy. From the folks on Twitter and other social media, to the folks here on WordPress (like, say, The Finicky Cynic) to the people on late night television who help the world try to make sense of and have a laugh or two about a situation like this yet are just as pissed and angry and sad as the rest of the world.
I admit this tragedy and its aftermath has gotten me pissed and angry and sad as well. Pissed and angry for, well, all of the above reasons. Sad over the loss of life. Sadder over the effects of this incident on everyone in this world (victims and non-victims alike). Even more sadder over how it’s ripped a hole in this proud LGBTQ community, and during the month when our family is showing our pride for all the world to see. And feeling downright despair over the fear that this may happen again, perhaps, God in Heaven forbid, in a worse situation than before. Despite all the love, there’s still tons of hate against gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender people.
Living through or seeing a tragedy like this can have a paralyzing effect on even the strongest of mental psyches. Sure, there are those who say “don’t let evil win” or “continue to live your lives” or “show your strength.” But it can be very difficult for some to overcome the sadness and continue to live in fear and trepidation. At least there are still pride events to stage and attend (like, say, Sunday’s event in West Hollywood). And there are signs from all corners of the world, from marches and vigils to flags and signs, that the LGBTQ community’s collective spine is steeled up and people are refusing to hide who they are from the disapproving. Will I feel this collective cloud roll away from over my head? Will I start to shed some of that anger and sadness? Oh, sure, eventually. It’s slow going for me right now in that aspect; even listening to an all-standup comedy channel on my satellite radio isn’t quite doing the trick yet. But eventually, the sun will shine and I can say “F U, naysayers” with fierceness.
A side note: What seems all to easy to overlook in media coverage of tragedies such as what happened in Orlando are the stories of those lost and the reflections of those left behind. Case in point: I admit I was kind of irked when surfing past the network evening newscasts Monday evening, coming across the ABC newscast, and noticing the names of the victims as sad piano music was playing. I take absolutely no pride in admitting this, and I could understand if you hate me for doing so, but the part of me who is frequently cynical of TV news (especially ABC’s glossy approach these days) couldn’t help but think, “Really? You’re reducing the victims to names, ages, and maudlin music?” That’s not to say that outlets like ABC don’t include at least one or two profiles/interviews/etc. in their newscasts; it’s just that those stories can’t be captured in a list of names.
I imagine the time constraints of a half-hour newscast may prevent the networks from doing what I appreciate an outlet like NPR does. When a tragedy like what happened in Orlando occurs, NPR takes some time in their newsmagazine broadcasts for a segment or two or several profiling the victims and the lives they led (this segment is but one example). To me, these pack more of a punch than just showing a list of names, for it helps the listener know that these people were more than mere statistics, but rather actual human beings.
Of course, the stories of survivors can also pack a real punch as well. Hearing or seeing some of their truly haunting stories have been shaking me down to the core. Case in point: This interview Scott Pelley of CBS News conducted with a survivor from the Orlando incident, who was with his best friend that night, a friend who didn’t survive. I am stunned by the calm-yet-clearly-emotional composure the survivor, Demetrice Naulings, has in recounting his story from that night, as well as his remembrance of his lost friend and the appreciation he will have for him for the rest of his days. Really, you must check out that interview; I’m still sobbing over how powerful it is.