After Orlando, We Must Not Submit to Hopelessness and Fear

by | Jan 14, 2022 | Sexual Politics & Culture

Like many of you, I’ve been rocked this week after my gay, lesbian, bisexual and queer family and allies were murdered in a horrendous act. This, on the heels of the Stanford rape case can make us feel hopeless.

I have days when I am down and so saddened about the state of our world and how much hate is in it.

But I will not succumb to hopelessness and fear. Our voices and our work matters. Our love matters. Our willingness to stand for something and to do it proudly and vocally is essential.

This week I’ve been thinking about what gay and lesbian bars and clubs have meant to me. When I first moved to New York City in 1994, I started dating my first girlfriend. One night we decided to be brave and go check out the local lesbian bar, Henrietta Hudson’s. On our way there we walked through the west village holding hands and a car drove by and a deep male voice shouted, “Dykes!” I was newly “out” and new to the big city and it stung.

We got to Hudson Street and we walked by Henrietta’s, which we later affectionately called, “The Hen House.” We were so nervous we couldn’t go in. So we walked by it. We crossed the street and watched the door person check IDs and let people enter. We must have spied on it for 30-40 minutes pacing the block until we just got up the courage to walk up to the door person and make our way inside.

We went in and the place was full of easy going women laughing, drinking, flirting and playing pool. I started to learn that the pool table is a staple of any women’s bar. I would play pool on that table many times in the future.

Gay and lesbian bars are a safe haven for those of us who don’t always know how we will be received out in the world. They are a place where we know we will be able to be open about who we are and to be around others like us, who won’t judge us or commit violence against us. They are a place to gather and feel like we have family—and that’s important for many people who have lost their families of origin because they didn’t accept our gayness or queerness.

I thought it was absolutely remarkable that President Obama immediately identified what happened in Orlando, not just an act of terror (which it was) but also as an act of hate against a very specific group. That makes it a “hate crime.” He has continued all week to use very specific language as he has spoken of what happened and that is important.

I remember in the 90s when hate crime legislation was passed. It meant that if an act of violence was identified as a hate crime, it meant harsher penalties and a higher level of criminal prosecution. This is important. Random violence is disgusting and intolerable. Violence that singles people out for who they are and tries to harm or even extinguish them? That is unconscionable. The United States has a long history of that.

Only a day or two into this ordeal, I started to hear the “officials” talking about how this isn’t about gay people. I heard “Why does it matter that they were young? All lives matter.” Yes they do, but here’s the thing to understand: young gay men and trans women of color are at the highest risk for experiencing violence in the US of any group. LGBT people are the most likely targets of hate crimes. And that is true in many other parts of the world. Young gay men and trans women of color are particularly vulnerable for harm and we have lost far too many of them already. Now 49 more and many hanging on for their lives right now.

This massive murder happened during the Gay High Holy Days of Gay Pride–a celebration that happens every year and which is important to gay folks because it is a time to celebrate who we are and to be out and proud of who we are, to raise our voices, to make ourselves visible and to demand the same rights and justice everyone else enjoys and to be together. Though it has become more commercialized like everything else, Gay Pride has historically been a very political event because it is still a political act to be openly gay or queer in this world.

This premeditated murder happened in a Latin club on Gay Pride where young gay men were celebrating with their friends and family—many were on vacation and had gone to Orlando to celebrate their pride. Once again, communities of color are targeted and at the most risk for harm in a country that has never been able to deal with the complexities of race and privilege. And they were targeted on their holiday, their holy day. The murderer knew that. This was not a random day at a random bar.

So don’t tell me it didn’t matter that they were people of color, don’t tell me it didn’t matter that they were gay, and don’t tell me it didn’t matter that they were young.

Because it matters.

They were targeted. Period. As much as gay communities of color are used to being targeted (because it happens on a daily basis in a variety of ways), this really fucking matters.

Please don’t diminish the courage it takes to be a gay or trans person of color in this culture. It takes enormous courage, enormous self-love and self-preservation to exist in a racist, homophobic culture.

So what can we do?

First of all, do not diminish the hatefulness and the specificity of this mass murder.

A community was targeted for who they are. I’ve had enough mansplaining for the year this week on how this is terror and it’s not about gay people. Are you really going to say that to a gay person? Whose shoes you’ve never walked in? Do not diminish this. This was a hate crime and it needs to be prosecuted and discussed as such, otherwise, we avoid dealing with the fullness of what happened and who paid the price.

Second, have conversations with your families and friends who may be less enlightened about these issues.

Talk about it. Express your feelings and compassion. Initiate conversation so we can all gain greater understanding.

Third, vote your senators and congress people out of office who are tethered to the NRA and other groups and who refuse to change our gun laws. 

We need new legislators if we are going to change this because our current congress can’t seem to get it together to make the right decisions about guns because the money that keeps flowing into their bank accounts is much more alluring. Please learn what your legislators are doing and question it. We must vote them out and say “Enough!”

Finally, please take good care of yourself this week—be gentle with those you love and with yourself. We need love more than anything right now.

Love is stronger than death,
A’magine

‪#‎StandingwithOrlando  #‎WhyWeNeedGayPride #‎LoveStillWins #Pulse #Solidarity #‎BlackLivesMatter

Here are a few helpful links for you as a caring, conscionable person:

You can check out hate crime statistics here.

And here is an easy guide to contacting your elected officials about their stance on gun control.

Images of the victims from NYDailyNews.com.

A’magine is a pioneer in sexual empowerment and her extensive real-world experience sparkles throughout this book. This is a delightful journey toward better, richer, more fulfilling sex, for women who want more joyful, creative, pleasurable lives.

-MARCIA BACZYNSKI

co-founder of Cuddle Party

Hi, I’m A’magine

I’ve been a Sexual Empowerment Educator
[&] Coach for over 25 years

I’ve helped thousands of people improve their lives, boost their confidence, learn the art of asking for what they want, step into their power, learn to radically love their bodies, show up as emotionally powerful in their relationships, rock-star their mid-life with the best sex ever, and put in perspective and practice the very real and important role sexuality was meant to play in their lives

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