I’m Gay: Kiss Me Kill Me
People of the LGBTQ community have long been a lightning rod of social, sexual and political opinion and judgment. Most certainly we are the great divide that unites all, either in acceptance, support and compassion or hatred, disgust and violence. No other group can foster such extremism across borders, beliefs, genders and races.
We are loved. We are loathed.
The recent events in Orlando have certainly brought that home. After the massacre – which was most definitely a hate crime directly targeting LGBTQ people – the media (traditional and social) was awash in sadness, outrage, love and support for the victims and their families, as well as the LGBTQ community in general. Politicians, Christians, Muslims, Jews, and Atheists of all backgrounds stood up in support. At the same the media was also awash with violent, vicious rhetoric from politicians, Christian ministers, Muslim clerics and Orthodox Jews who celebrated the deaths and injuries in Pulse Nightclub with a twisted glee that shocks and makes the blood boil. We are loved. We are loathed.
This event has triggered emotions and dredged up simmering pain in queer people as a stark reminder that no matter how safe we may feel; we are not.
The reaction from the greater society has been as diverse as the people who make it up; just as the reaction from LGBTQ people has been equally as diverse: outrage, heartbreak, sorrow, fear, anger, rage, hopelessness and a call to action. This event has triggered emotions and dredged up simmering pain in queer people as a stark reminder that no matter how safe we may feel; we are not. We are still vulnerable to hate and violence and that is a sick feeling in our gut that we carry with us on some level each and every day. The cold, harsh reminder that there are people around the world – and right beside us – who would like us dead is constantly in the back our minds.
In Canada we have been lulled into a sense of complacency when it comes to this kind of violence and hatred, and for good reason. In comparison to many countries around the world, we have it good. We fought long and hard to achieve our rights and freedoms and aside from the occasional blip, we can live our lives openly and honestly and without fear. Of course, there are still issues that challenge members of our community: transgender people are still facing discrimination both inside and outside the queer community. We are great, but we are not perfect.
Globally, the story takes a horrid turn. These statistics and articles show how LGBTQ people are targeted as victims of hate crimes: FBI hate crime statistics, UK statistics and global statistics.
In the eyes of a person committing violence against another based on their identity, gender, sexuality, race, religion or nationality, they don’t see a hate crime but a justified act to rid the world of what they have been told is vermin.
While the statistics are unsettling, it shouldn’t come as a surprise. The more we have achieved our rights around the globe, the more vicious the anti-gay rhetoric from political and religious leaders becomes. When a group is marginalized and vilified long enough, they are easily dehumanized and seen as a threat to someone else’s life, lifestyle, family, income, etc. This is a tactic that is ages old – and sadly, despite our allegedly more informed society – still as effective. In the eyes of a person committing violence against another based on their identity, gender, sexuality, race, religion or nationality, they don’t see a hate crime but a justified act to rid the world of what they have been told is vermin.
Most often these acts of violence and hatred are met with the usual chorus of outcries for saner laws, better protection of people, less access to firearms and so on. Sadly, nothing gets done to fundamentally change the current situation. Therefore, we process our way through one tragic event, then gird our loins in wait for the next one to occur. Some school, some bar, some movie theatre, some public space, will be the scene of the next bloody rampage. And over and over and over again it happens.
Radical times call for radical action. Change takes courage. Change is not easy. Living freely takes courage. Today, this week, this month, this year, there has never been a better time for LGBTQ people to live with courage.
Many people rightly feel it’s too late for gun control. After all, how does a society gain any kind of control over hundreds of millions of firearms currently in the hands of the citizenry? It is tantamount to stopping a tsunami with a paper towel. The solution at this point is a radical one and one unlikely to be acted upon by politicians who bend like willows on a windy day to the gun lobby and other puppet masters. It would take courage to repeal the Second Amendment. Really, it’s not 1776 and the British aren’t coming. It would take bravery to outlaw civilians owning firearms and take said firearms back and destroy them. It would take a radical act to deem the NRA a terrorist group and a threat to national security. Any one of these measures would incite major blowback. It would be messy. But it would be a defining moment in American history.
In the meantime, we continue to live our lives, go to work, go to school, travel, go to movies, dance in clubs, wave our flags and embrace the perception of freedom we believe we enjoy, knowing somewhere deep inside, that freedom could be taken away by a mind poisoned by lies and hate. Radical times call for radical action. Change takes courage. Change is not easy. Living freely takes courage. Today, this week, this month, this year, there has never been a better time for LGBTQ people to live with courage.
Andrew Vail’s writing career began in Halifax when he was a child. In Grade 4, he wrote and produced his own series of comic books entitled “Freaky The Frog”, the on-going tale of a little misfit frog and his pals of the pond. Marvel Comics never came knocking but Andrew knew he loved to create and tell stories. Since then, Andrew has worked in advertising, PR and publicity; has interviewed politicians, rock stars and very interesting yet not-so-famous movers and shakers. He has published articles in a variety of local and national magazines and websites. Andrew is currently working on the project queer50.com.
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