“It could have been me…”
“It could have been been me in that club. You could be posting about me right now.”
“It could have been me.”
These very same words were posted by at least 5 of my friends yesterday after learning about the horrific massacre at an Orlando gay nightclub in the early hours of Sunday morning.
My dear friends—all part of the LGBTQQIP2A+ community—posted these words and the slowly-growing realization of the truth of their words crept over me and sunk itself deep into the pit of my stomach.
It’s a sickening feeling. Nauseating.
That this gunman targeted a gay club is of particular note.
Gay bars are different than any other club or bar in a variety of ways. (*Note*: Many that identify themselves in the LGBTQQIP2A+ community visit gay bars and clubs. “Gay bar” isn’t a limiting phrase, it’s a phrase used by the community to differentiate these places from any other club or bar.) But perhaps the most significant difference in a gay club or bar from any other is that they’re places of solidarity and refuge, as much as they’re places of dancing and hanging out.
Do you get it now? Are you starting to understand why so many in the LGBTQQIP2A+ community are so heartbroken…so sad…and so angry?
So many in this community are told by their families, by faith communities, and by society at large that their humanity is shameful and is not welcome. So gathering with and being around other people who share in and who affirm their humanity is a healing and restorative thing.
It’s also an act of resistance.
If society tells you that your personhood isn’t welcome, then gathering together to celebrate everything about that personhood is a defiant, disruptive show of solidarity against the status quo and against those groups of people who would devalue your personhood.
So not only did the gunman massacre 49 beautiful children of God, he also shattered the sense of safety, security, and home-ness that Pulse holds for the Orlando LGTBQQIP2A+ community, and that so many other gay bars and clubs hold for so many people across our country and around the world.
And I want to be clear here: those murdered and injured by the gunman are children of God. And they are beautiful. And they are known to God. And they are loved by God.
All people are made in God’s image. And God is madly in love with every single person in God’s creation.
God was killed Sunday morning inside Pulse.
And God weeps at this massacre of God’s beloved children.
Here is a list being updated of those that were murdered.
I invite you to join me in praying for them and for their families and those they loved and those who loved them.
I find myself at a bit of a loss right now. I feel like my words, my prayers, my hugs, and my tears fail to do any measure of justice to the pain and hurt that so many of my dear friends are experiencing.
And yet, I will keep praying, keep speaking words of love, keep offering hugs of comfort, and keep shedding tears for our broken world.
And I offer this:
I am here for you.
I am here.
And I am for you.
I love you more than I have words to say.
I am with you.
I stand with you.
And I will fight with you.
I love you so much.