On Orlando & Pride
I write this knowing that my voice as a cis gay man often dominates discussions about and in the queer community and media. I write this because my voice as a queer person of colour is often underrepresented. I write this as an ally to my trans and non-binary siblings, to queer women, and to fellow queer people of colour, and to all others who have their identities erased all too often.
I spent the first hour of my day in bed, reading article after article, tweet after tweet, and Facebook post after Facebook post about what happened in Orlando. I didn’t want to get out of bed. I was upset. I was angry. I was scared. I was worried. I was confused.
Luckily I had an appointment to pull me out of bed. I promised I wouldn’t read about it on the way to the appointment. I needed to give myself an emotional break. I was allowed to do that. I know that for the victims, and their loved ones, they can’ t take that break. But I could, and I did. And I felt selfish.
And then I started reading again. I’ve been fighting back tears all day.
As I write this, CNN and CBC keep sending me push notifications with updates on my phone, that make me more confused. More angry. More emotional.
I am speechless but overcome with things to say at the same time.
What happened is Orlando is heartbreaking. The loss of lives is always heartbreaking. The senseless violence is always heartbreaking. The discussions about gun control, the blood ban, identity politics, terrorism, and seeing the outpour of emotion is heartbreaking.
I’m in a café downtown Toronto, that is currently covered in rainbows in honour of Pride month.
And people ask why we need Pride.
Pride is a celebration of how far we’ve come. A celebration that the queer community is allowed to be.
But then the news broke this morning about Pulse. Pride becomes something different. Pride becomes a refusal. A refusal to be victims. To be scared. To be terrorized, targeted, marginalized, or attacked. Pride becomes a reminder of privilege, and that unless the whole community has “made it”, then none of us have.
Pride is about community. And now, more than ever, we need community. We need community to love and support one another. We need community to lean on. We need community to organize and to demand change and reformation. We need allies in our community to also stand with us, but not to speak over us. We need space to have all voices heard. We need space to cry. We need to be allowed to demand change, and have our voices listened to. We need community to remember the victims that are and will have their identities, names, and lives erased.
I need community to tell me what I can do for my community.
It is with a heavy heart that this is my post on Pride. But I will not let this ruin anything. Fear and hate have no place in Pride. I will celebrate Pride, knowing how lucky I am to live in Toronto, but also knowing that there are members of the queer community around that world that are living in fear, anguish, and grief. My heart and prayers goes out to all of them. Now is a time for support, love, and education. Now is a time for conversations about change. Now is a time for Pride.