I am at a loss for words.
I cried as I tried to watch the coverage on Sunday. Yesterday I couldn’t make it through Anderson Cooper’s coverage of the shootings in Orlando, giving faces and names to the people murdered in a place of acceptance. As a mother the image above haunts me. To imagine a grown man reaching out to his mother to tell her he loves her, knowing so resolutely he will die, is unfathomable.
A friend text me last night, sharing that he was concerned this event was giving rise to more ignorance and hate. I sat in a brief moment of solace as I text him back, “The largest US hate crime was against the LGBT community. Things are going to change.”
I thought of my friends who have fought to marry one another and how proud I was as I stood as a witness of their love. I thought of the HRC events I’ve attended and the LGBT community that doesn’t consider me an outsider because I am a straight white woman. I have no other label than ally and I look like the allies next to me. We have no color or gender, no religion, no affiliations. We are thanked graciously because we simply love our friends and demand they be allowed to love one another. Our children sit side by side in classrooms. We are raising them together to see love is love.
I was blessed to receive another text a few hours ago, “A friend of mine sent this to me a couple hours ago. I thought you might be interested to read it….”
What followed gave me goosebumps and crystallized everything I have felt in my heart about the LGBT community that I now look to because I have seen their resilience. This email was sent from John Duran, West Hollywood City Councilmember, to our mutual friend. He has given me permission to post it in its entirety.
I don’t have the words.
My dear friends, please read this letter from West Hollywood City Councilmember John Duran –
My heart hurts. I have been going back and forth all day between wanting to cry. Wanting to scream. Questioning everything. It’s been a very painful 48 hours for our people.
My phone rang initially at 4:30 in the morning the morning of gay pride with a concerned phone call from the Sheriff’s Department about what had occurred in Orlando and the possibility of a copy cat crime in West Hollywood. 4 hours later another call that the Santa Monica Police Department had in fact arrested someone that was heading to Santa Monica Blvd with a car full of assault weapons and a pipe bomb.
Federal government officials suggested that maybe it was best we cancel the (Gay Pride) Parade and Festival this year. We sent a message back from West Hollywood.
Maybe you don’t understand who we are!
Our community was born in the face of violence at the Stonewall Inn when angry drag queens fought back against the ritual violence inflicted upon them by the New York City Police Department. And the night that Harvey Milk was assassinated… I am wearing my Gay Men’s Chorus t-shirt like my choral brothers behind me because the night Harvey Milk was assassinated a group of men gathered at the steps of City Hall in San Francisco and began to sing songs they knew from their churches. And out of that was born the first chorus in this country and 146 LGBT choruses that would follow. And we were not afraid then.
And, maybe you don’t know that we’ve walked through plague. That when nobody else responded to HIV & AIDS as a people, we gathered together, we acted up and fought back, we created institutions. We walked in the face of death itself and we fought for our people!
Maybe you don’t know that over gays in the military – that we fought for our military service members…
When you told us we couldn’t serve as schoolteachers through the Briggs Initiative in 1978…
When you told us we couldn’t serve as clergy members and Rabbis…
We have fought back at every institution, in every church, in every part of this country!
We, the LGBT people, have shown courage in every single fight!
So, if you think we are going to be afraid of terrorism then you don’t understand that:
WE’VE BEEN TERRORIZED FROM THE SCHOOL GROUND PLAYGROUND FROM THE VERY BEGINNING OF OUR LIVES!
And we have fought back!
And we have loved one another!
And we have fought for marriage!
And we have fought for equality!
AND, EVERY STEP OF THE WAY WE HAVE BEEN AFRAID! AND we walked forward anyway!
If you look at the (Gay Men’s Chorus of LA) chorus and if you look at yourselves, we are united colors. We are what is the BEST of this country!
We are Black, White and Latino and Asian. We are Christian and Jew and Muslim and Atheist.
We are straight and gay and lesbian and bi and transgender men and transgender women.
We are all of America as one people!
And, we are at our best and our brightest when we have a common enemy.
So, America instead of shaming and denigrating us as a people, look to us as an example of what to do in the face of fear!
We are a people who know how to walk proudly and nobly in the face of fear itself! We will lead you America! We will show you how to be brave, and strong, and courageous – no matter what the consequence!
I love you all, my LGBT brothers and sisters. God Bless You.