Haters are going to hate. Some of them will buy guns. Some of them will use those guns on the things and people they hate. Like gays.
More than 100 people, most of them presumably lesbians, gay/bisexual women and men and transgender individuals, were gunned down in the small hours Sunday morning. Forty-nine of them required body bags. Some still don’t have toe tags, leaving friends and family to fret, wondering if their loved ones are among the 49 who perished.
Another 53 were injured, many of them whisked to Orlando Regional Medical Center, where overwhelmed and overworked medics frantically went about the task of saving lives just a short distance from the scene of the slaughter, Pulse, a gay nightclub-turned-shooting gallery on South Orange Avenue in Orlando, Fla. They have performed more than two dozen surgeries.
Never before has there been such horrific carnage from a spree of shooting in the United States, a country whose Constitution’s Second Amendment grants Americans, even the disturbed, the right to play with guns.
In this case, there were two weapons, a Glock pistol and an AR-15 assault rifle.
Meanwhile, in Santa Monica, Calif., police, responding to alerts from sharp-eyed neighbors, put the collar on a suspicious man knocking on doors and loitering. They searched his white Acura with the Indiana license plates and discovered an arsenal that included three assault rifles, ammunition and ingredients to build a bomb. Upon interrogation, he informed officers that his destination was the Pride parade and festival in West Hollywood.
We can assume he wasn’t going there to wave a rainbow flag and share warm-and-fuzzy moments with gay men.
Since the bullets stopped flying in Orlando and police possibly prevented bullets from flying and bombs from bursting in Los Angeles, there has been ceaseless talk on CNN and other news outlets about terrorism, the Islamic State and Islamic extremism. Hate vis-a-vis the LGBT collective has been the sidebar.
It shouldn’t be.
The madman, the murderer of at least 50 people in Orlando, didn’t drive two hours from his home in Fort Pierce to Pulse by accident. At last call, 2 a.m. Knowing the nightclub would be congested with gay men and women. He could have picked any nightclub in Orlando, or any nightclub along the way. He didn’t. He chose to wipe out 100 patrons at a high-volume gay nightclub.
And I wept. I imagine many, if not most, in the LGBT collective shed tears.
While it’s true that the bullets flew in Orlando, they landed in every LGBT community around the globe. They struck me, they struck my dearest friends, most of whom are gay men, they struck the people who employed me for 7 1/2 years at a nightclub that, while all-inclusive, is considered a safe space for gays.
I have spent much of Sunday in ponder of these people and Paparazzi Nightclub. It often isn’t easy being gay. It can be frightening. An attack of this sort, even if on the opposite side of the continent, can heighten those very real anxieties, fears that are impossible to explain to those who do not walk in our shoes.
It will not, however, put the brakes on gay pride.
Where I live, in Victoria, the LGBT collective will be out en masse for the annual Pride Week hijinks beginning July 1, Canada Day. There will be drag baseball, a gay dog walk, a Pride boat cruise, a Pride fashion show, the Pride parade and festival, and Paparazzi will be packed.
The haters won’t win. They’ll hurt and, yes, kill us with their bullets and by hurling us off building roofs, but they won’t win. We aren’t going away.