Words come so hard

I don’t want to say nothing about Orlando, about the massacre at the Pulse nightclub. I don’t generally comment on news items, because I don’t feel adequate to the task. But I also don’t want to just stick to my already-scheduled posting pattern as if nothing happened.

I am numb and dissociated. This is another reason I don’t generally write about these things. Words aren’t really accessible to me in this state. They come so slowly.

The shooting in Orlando was absolutely an act of terror against queer communities. I was weirdly heartened when I first saw it was being investigated as such. Because that was before I realized why – why, of course – the powers that be had been so quick to make that connection. It is not that the criminal justice system and the mainstream media suddenly developed compassion and understanding for the terror that these acts have inevitably struck among queer people within and outside the US. It is simply that these violent acts were committed by a Muslim.

But let us be very clear: this is not an act of terror against America. It is an act of terror committed by an American man, who had access to the guns he used because he lives in the US. His attitude toward queer people is shared by many people of many faiths (and atheists) throughout the US.

This is an act of terror that grew out of and was enabled by US culture and laws.

It is also an act of terror at least partially based in Islam. In this queer-hating American man’s personal interpretation of Islam, absolutely. He made a point of saying so himself. It does not and should not condemn the religion as a whole, any more than the rampant queer-hatred in many Christian churches should be used to condemn all of Christianity. But neither should this aspect be erased. It is relevant to this man’s perspective on the world, and I know of too many queer Muslims and ex-Muslims who are telling me it is relevant to be ok discounting that.

This was the worst mass shooting in the US since 300 people were murdered at Wounded Knee. And it was directed at the queer community during Pride celebrations. It occurred it what should have been the safest possible space for queer people. And it is terrifying to contemplate, as Pride celebrations continue around the world this month, that each of us needs to recalculate whether we feel safe being queer in public spaces. That is what terror does.

More than 50 people are dead, many more injured and possibly dying. Many of them are Latinx. All of them were celebrating queer community when they died. I hurt for them and I hurt for us.

And I have no other words.