It’s been two years since the horrific shooting at the Pulse Nightclub in Florida; two years since we woke up on Sunday morning and turned on the news to watch “Meet the Press” and was greeted with images of chaos…people being sent to hospitals because a madman decided to come into a club and open fire on the LGBTQ community, killing 49 people.
In the time since this massacre, we have become an activist. We didn’t willingly sign up for the job. Instead, it fell into our lap. We didn’t ask for it. It just happened and it occurred in a way that we didn’t expect.
We have become acutely aware of the freedoms of our community; freedoms that others would like to take away. We are living in an era where war has been declared on people of color, people of Muslim faith and the LGBTQ community. Our rights are slowly being stripped away in the guise of patriotism. People are being imprisoned under the guise of Homeland Security. And before it’s all said and done, our rights to love who we want to love will be brought into question…it’s just a matter of time.
Everything that is happening now is no different than what happened that fateful evening two years ago.
Actually, let me correct myself; it is different in the aspect that the outcome will be slow…moving like a cancer. It will eat away at our core, claiming and eroding from the inside out. Rights will be questioned, then challenged and then finally removed. All of this done in the name of making a country great; even if the country was great to begin with.
There was a time when I wasn’t always proud to belong to the LGBTQ community. At one point in time, being of this community was considered a curse; an anomaly that went against the commandments of God and society. It was the greatest insult you could hurl at a man…and people would hurl those insults as a means of demeaning an individual; perhaps making them feel as if they didn’t belong or that society had no place for them.
I wrestled with this ideology for years…and then I woke up. I realized that loving someone is important, but so is loving myself. I understand that shame only works if you truly feel as if there is something to be ashamed of. And I believe with everything within me, that there is no reason to hold my head down to anyone or anything.
We understand that once you hold your head down, you are giving that person power over you. And I can’t do that…not anymore.
There are certain demographics within this country that will come for our rights and liberties in the guise of proclaiming that they are better than me because of how they worship, what they believe or what political viewpoints they hold.
Our rights will be questioned as they are right now at this very moment. Our standing within society will be challenged as is what is currently happening with our transgender community.
And lastly, legislation will be drafted to take away the rights that we have fought for and currently enjoy. It hasn’t happened yet…but it may be on the not too distant horizon because this is where we are.
We have to remain vigilant as a people. We have value and we will not be dismissed because some people don’t understand who or why we love.
We belong to the LGBTQ community; and we should be prepared to fight for this community because beside the fact that these men and women are our family; we have earned the right to be here and no one has the right to push us back into the proverbial closet.
It’s been two years since the shooting in Florida. But the assault continues and until we all stand up in unison and fight for the right to be, we will be dismissed as another group of people that does not or will not contribute to a society that somehow defines itself as great by imposing its will on another group of people.
We have value. We have merit…and we should be willing to fight for that merit!
~ J.L Whitehead