Today was a day just like any other

I woke up early this morning, rolled over and checked my phone. Like many around the world, I read what had happened to the people of Orlando, read the names of those who were confirmed to have died, heard the first impressions of horror, and mentally reminded myself of my own personal 48-hour rule: that little of what is written about a tragedy in the first couple of days is likely to be accurate or nuanced.

I looked over at my fiancé, who was sleeping, and decided against waking him to give him the news. He was sleeping, and looked so still and peaceful that I didn’t want to burden him with a tragedy on the other side of the world. Even when I was getting dressed and he woke and blearily peered at me from under his uncharacteristically unruly hair, I just said good morning, told him that I loved him, and wished him a good day. Just like any other day.

I spent my breaks through the day on Twitter, reading my friends’ reactions to the deaths, to the stories and the names and the snippets of lives that flooded out of Orlando, to the unfeeling, unthinking reactions of bigots and homophobes and Islamophobes across the Internet. I reached out to some who seemed particularly affected and offered my love and support where I could, and I retweeted interesting pieces of information and things that I found particularly thought-provoking or heartfelt. Just like any other day.

Because, for me, this is just like any other day. Not because I think this tragedy is unimportant, but because I have reached a point in my life where I expect violence against my community every day of my life. Where an event like this is not senseless, it makes perfect sense; it is a necessary sequela of the rhetoric that is used about my community, my life, and my family. Nothing about this tragedy surprises me.

I read Rebecca Shaw’s incredible article Gay bars and safe spaces: Why Orlando has impacted me so much, and I watch Owen Jones’ reaction to insensitive Sky News hosts, and I understand the isolation and the hurt and the anger and the frustration and the aloneness but part of me just can’t bring myself to feel that emotion for myself. I have none of it left. I have given up on the idea that I could live in a world where I don’t expect to be hurt, denigrated, treated like a curiosity at best and an abomination at worst. I am at peace with the reality of my life being a political plaything, suitable for meaningless, dangerous boondoggles and vacuous “arguments” proposed by those who hide behind religion to give a thin veneer of acceptability to their bigotry and hatred.

What I am not at peace with is the thought of someone else seeing the world fresh and coming to that same conclusion. I do not accept the danger posed by this divisive rhetoric to the young and emerging members of our community. I believe that while I may feel like violence and hatred are an inescapable consequence of my living openly and honestly, this is not a necessary condition for living an authentic queer life. We can change our culture for the emerging members of our community.

Over the course of the day, friends of mine have been sharing vital support resources for those who are affected. Organisations like QLife and Same Same are phenomenal for those on whom this tragedy has had a direct and personal effect. The effect that violence like this can have on our feelings of safety, security, and happiness, even across the globe, can not be understated, and I do hope that no-one reading this feels that I am saying that it should be.

However, for me, these services are not enough. A vigil is not enough. A Twibbon or a Facebook profile picture is not enough. No one thing that I can do will be enough to make me feel like I am creating a world that I would have my children grow up in. And so, I will do my best, each day, to live. I will be a strong queer person, openly and honestly, in my community. I will be an example to the generation that follow me that hatred and bigotry are not useful or necessary parts of our culture. I will, even when I am resigned to experiencing homophobia every day of my life, do my best to act as if I do not expect it, I do not accept it, and I will not tolerate it, and neither should anyone else. Whether you are a bystander, a friend, or a fellow DiGS Australian, you do not have to tolerate this.

Most of me doesn’t think that living this way will make any difference beyond making me tired. Part of me hopes that it will. But I know that we can change our culture and our communities and create a better world for our young people.

We must.

Posted in: Blog

Written by David

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