I have struggled with life today.
I wasn’t going to write anything about the tragedy in Orlando. I didn’t feel I had anything to add to the many thousands of voices already speaking out. I still don’t think I do.
What I do have though, is an honesty I have discovered about myself, awakened due to those terrible events that occurred on the other side of the world. Something I wanted to share with those who may be feeling the same.
As humans, not necessarily a part of the LGBTQ community, you know in your heart how terrible the events in Orlando are.
As a member of the LGBTQ community, I feel it in my very soul.
Those were my people; my tribe. Although we never met, we share a bond invisible to those outside of the LGBTQ community. It is borne of the scars and stories of those of us who came before; those who suffered terribly at the hands of governments and police forces and others, over decades. Those for whom until relatively recently, it was a crime to be who they were.
I have older lesbian friends. Good friends who have told us stories from their younger years, about persecution, and hiding themselves. Of secret meetings and being paranoid that they would get caught and end up in jail, or lose their children, or on the end of a beating, or worse.
And I thought I knew. I thought I understood that struggle, and I was grateful to them for forging the path for me and those of my generation and making it easier for us to be loud and proud.
But I didn’t know. I didn’t understand the fear, and the frustration, or the strength and the tenacity and the passion they had. Not until today.
Add to that discovery the revelation that I currently live in the most conservative electorate in Queensland – the second most conservative electorate in Australia. I certainly feel it on a day like today.
The activist in me wanted to wear my pride colours down the main street of this town, out and proud and unafraid, to show solidarity for those we lost today. But the truth of it is, most of the people here won’t even know about the events in Orlando until they see it on the news tonight. They may have heard it in passing on ABC radio, but they wouldn’t even give it a second thought.
And just thinking about that made me realise that the most painful thing about being a minority, and living where I do, is the isolation. So isolated, in fact, that even our attempts to join the local LGBT group (extremely hard to find and get hold of) came to nothing – even they are closed to outsiders.
That realisation hit me like a tonne of bricks.
I cried this morning when I read about the scale of the tragedy in Orlando. I cried for those lost and those who survived. I cried for the families of them all, and I cried for our community, once again the target of vicious, unfathomable hatred.
But when I realised how isolated I felt today, sorting through my feelings about this tragedy, I cried for myself. I cried because while I don’t feel unsafe, I don’t feel safe. I cried because being a minority out here means I can’t take ownership of what I write for a living and be proud of it when I so desperately want to. I cried because I hate the feeling of being watched when I hold my wife’s hand when we walk down the street, or when we sit in the only nice restaurant in town and celebrate our anniversary. I cried, because all of this makes me feel stifled and sometimes, alone.
There is nothing more that I want right now than to be somewhere, anywhere, there is a vigil or a gathering; a place to feel the strength of my community.
I want to stand in the main street of this small town and shout “Enough is enough!”
Enough with the rhetoric; enough with the shame; enough with the vilification that you call ‘holding an opinion’ or having ‘religious freedom’.
Enough with thinking you know better.
Enough with inciting fear of those who are different to you.
Enough with the condemnation of people you don’t even know and will never, ever meet.
Enough with allowing hatred and fear to win out over love and acceptance and tolerance.
Because no matter how long it takes,
#loveislove and #lovewillalwayswin
Thanks for putting the thoughts and feelings of so many of us in such an eloquent way xxx
So beautiful and well written. Even though we’ve never met I want you to know you’re not alone. We are all in this together and one day, I’m not sure when but one day, love WILL win. Sending Oceans of strength to you, today and every day ? Thank you for being “our” voice x
Selena, this is a powerful blog. I am so glad you did add your voice to share how this horrific event has touched your life. Yes, living in isolation can be incredibly stressful and lonely at times. I hope the availability of this wonderful way of staying in touch at least electronically , will ease some of that pain and frustration.
I struggled yesterday whether to,put out my rainbow flag yesterday, but as I live in a remote and damnable conservative area, too, I thought about why I would do it and what might happen.
The flag means a lot to me, but would flying it change anyone’s minds? Am I prepared to defend myself or my property if some idiot with narrow-minded views thought he’d have the right to ‘do something’ about it? The answer to both these questions was no, so I’ve kept the flag inside where I can enjoy it and then reached out to my internet friends to get the support I needed.
Perhaps, one day you will be able to feel safe to attend restaurants and social events where you live. Perhaps you have more support than you know now.
I guess, what I want to say, is that you are not alone. Your words and feelings do matter. I am so glad you took the time to write what you did. Today, you helped me see that no matter the distance, we are all in this together.
And that will make us strong.