June is Pride Month and yesterday 50 people were killed and 53 injured during a shooting at Pulse, a gay club in Orlando. The mainstream media is heavily speculating on the killer’s possible ties to terrorist groups, his background and his exact motivations, while usually mentioning the fact that the target was a club filled with celebrating LGBTQ people only in the margins. After reading some of the countless reports on this horrible incident, I focused on pieces by queer outlets and was thankful for all the anger and outrage, but also the comfort that they articulated.
After every shooting I wonder how many more it will take for lawmakers to finally get behind gun control. I’m tired of people bringing out bullshit arguments along the lines of “Guns don’t kill people, people do.” I’m tired of people insisting on the right to bear arms, grounded in the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. That right might have made sense in an 18th century frontier society, but not in modern-day USA, where there are far too many assholes able to legally obtain the means to kill innocent people going about their lives in schools, universities, movie theaters, health care centers and night clubs. I’m tired of people hailing “American freedom”, while at the same time school children are shot, women are targeted for visiting abortion clinics and queer people celebrating Pride are killed – because in 2016 it still seems to be shocking for women to actually own their bodies or for two people to openly express their love on the street.
I’m tired of constantly keeping half an eye on my surroundings when I’m holding my girlfriend’s hand in public, of cautiously looking around before and after we exchange a quick kiss because chances are there might be somebody watching us in disapproval. Not that I care about anybody’s opinion, but I do care about the possibility that society can produce some fucked up individuals capable of verbally or physically assaulting people because they dare to declare their love in public. I’m tired of U.S. politicians implementing laws making queer and trans lives even more difficult than they already can be, and thereby sending a message to the public that discrimination and hatred is acceptable and in some states even legal. I’m tired of German politicians hypocritically talking about openness and tolerance but at the same time failing to even acknowledge that the victims of this attack were LGBTQs.
The attack in Orlando is an attack on the entire queer community, no matter what country we live in. Even though incidents like these try to ingrain fear into our heads, our hearts will stand united because love is love is love is love and cannot be killed or swept aside.
When senseless acts of tragedy remind us
That nothing here is promised, not one day
This show is proof that history remembers
We live through times when hate and fear seem stronger
We rise and fall and light from dying embers
Remembrances that hope and love lasts long
And love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love
Cannot be killed or swept aside.
from Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony Awards acceptance speech