So, how does everyone feel today? I’m asking. I ask because it’s been two weeks since… well, we all certainly know by now what happened in Orlando, Florida two weeks ago. Two whole weeks and… are we recovering? Are we still mad over how it happened? Why it happened? The reasons it was allowed to happen in the first damn place?
Well, I suppose it’s natural to be mad at least a little bit two weeks later. Sure, we’re trying to recover, but the pain of the moment — whether we were in Orlando or not — still stings. But in the two weeks that have passed, there has been anger and strong words, for sure. But also… there’s that sense of common recovery. That has meant uniting and caring for, and having some respect and compassion for, one another, regardless of placement on the gender or sexual preference spectrum (“#OrlandoUnited” is proof of that).
It has also meant, for some, the realization by some who are not LGBT that they may have said words or done actions that may have been harmful. Earlier today, I saw an interstital on Viceland where someone (from Orlando perhaps?) talked about using “the ‘F’ word” — you know, the one that doesn’t end in “K” — to describe gays. Then the Orlando tragedy happened, which made him realize how dismissive he had been towards gays. I mean, this man was really sobbing and remorseful. It’s kind of sad how it takes tragedy to change someone’s previously firm mindset.
That’s not to say everyone’s mindset has been changed. While many are expressing words or performing actions in support of the Orlando victims in general or the LGBTQ community in general, there are still those who will crack an insensitive joke, perform anything other than a compassionate act, or say outright that the victims in Orlando got what they deserved (or so they think). But I am one to think that such people, as vocal as they may be sometimes, are a great minority. Haters will hate — animosity towards the LGBT community and other minority groups of various stripes — but multitudes more who still show true love, support, and compassion will outweigh any hate.
So we mourn together. And we recover together. And we stay vigilant together, hoping that another awful tragedy doesn’t befall us. But we also celebrate together. This is June, of course, the month where the LGBTQ community celebrates together, naysayers be dammed. Whatever celebration it may be, whenever or wherever it’s held — a parade today in New York City or Chicago, a weekend-long celebration the Twin Cities, a month’s worth of events in Toronto — people of various stripes under the pride rainbow celebrate the people they are, the ones they love, the many others who support them, the progress our community has made and the roadblocks that remain, the forebears who paved the way for them… and, yes, the ones who are celebrating only in spirit.
Of course, of those bits of progress was what happened exactly one year ago today, when the United States Supreme Court — the freakin’ Supremes! — ruled that couples of the same gender have “equal dignity in the eyes of the law,” and that no state should prevent them from marrying just because they are both of the same gender.
But while the marriage equality goal has been met, there are still those haters out there who want to put up more roadblocks: Self-righteous bakers and wedding planners who shut their doors on same-sex couples. Court officials who still want to forbid enforcement of the marriage equality ruling they are required to enforce. And, for the naysayers’ latest trick, forbidding transgender people from using the public restrooms for the genders they identify with. It makes, by comparison, the effort to overcome marriage inequality seem like walk in the park.
But still striving for those yet-to-be-gained goals — living as LGBTQ with the respect, and without the discrimination, from others — are part of the “staying vigilant” part mentioned above. I’m of the belief that good things come with patience and hard work, and that’s the case with the LGBTQ community. The rainstorms of pain, disappointment and, yes, tragedy have will come to our community… but know that every rainstorm clears out and makes way for a rainbow full of pride.