by Tommi Avicolli Mecca
I am angry, sad, frustrated, and I don't know how to quell the rage welling up inside me. Forty-nine dead, dozens wounded. An attack on a queer/transgender Latino bar in Orlando, supposedly the largest recent mass shooting in this land of the free and home of the brave, but let us not forget Sand Creek, Wounded Knee and others.
When will it end? Not while guns and assault weapons are so easy to obtain. The NRA be damned, guns do kill. Especially in the hands of people with a head full of hate and the means to carry it out.
Attacks on our LGBT community are nothing new. Our community has seen so much violence in my lifetime, including the violence inflicted by cops at gay bars and on the streets; the bombings of gay churches and the burning of a New Orleans bar in 1973; countless anti-queer and anti-transgender attacks and murders, including Dan White’s killing of Harvey Milk, San Francisco’s first openly gay supervisor; the violence of a nation that was content to let gay men die of AIDS; and the violence of bullying in the schools.
Violence that seeped into my own life, the last time with a friend getting off a subway in my hometown of Philadelphia. A group of young guys decided to go after “the faggots.” The cops wouldn’t even bring my friend to the hospital. They thought that we had done something to provoke the attack.
This is not about a particular religion because all religions have a history of homophobia. This is about a hatred that has been ingrained in people from birth, a sickness that still afflicts so much of this country and is transmitted through families and institutions such as legislatures (yes, North Carolina, I mean you and so many others) and places of worship that are anything but holy. The rhetoric of the right wing and the Christian right fuels that hatred every single day of the week.
This is about a growing fear within me that we have not seen the last of this kind of homophobic attack. It’s pride month in America and, even as we were watching more and more details emerge from the horror in Orlando yesterday, there came news that an Indiana man was arrested heading to LA pride, his car packed with enough weapons and explosives to cause a whole lot of trouble.
Ultimately, this is about our need as a community to get back into the streets. It's not enough to have the right to marry. It's not enough to have out elected officials. It's not enough to think that, because we have achieved a degree of acceptance in little pockets like SF, we've arrived.
Orlando is our reminder that we're still not safe and may never be. But we certainly won't be, if we're not in the streets fighting for our lives.
Let's make sure that those who hate us understand that they'll never have the comfort of our silence.