I spent most of Sunday internalizing the Orlando shooting for the most part. I made some limited commentary and retweeted a thing or two on Twitter about it, but largely remained silent. This here, now, is my reaction to it. Sometimes it takes me a while to process things.
With regards to the shooting itself, the targets the shooter chose, and the fact it happened at all, I’m not really surprised. I’ve been rather expecting something like this to happen since we got marriage rights. The legislative efforts of various lawmakers are just the polite version of transphobia and homophobia. There are many more people outside of the government who, like the shooter, have access to weaponry they can use to kill multiple people at once, and the lack of mental stability which makes doing so seem like a reasonable way to express one’s fear and hatred of the LGBT+ community.
But all this is beside the point. The point is, the LGBT+ community has value. If it didn’t, if it were still hidden and secret and underground, it would be easy for society at large to ignore us and the contributions we make to that society. Society did this before, for decades, as it tried to crush us out of any sort of public existence. It wanted us to conform, to hide ourselves. It wanted us to accept its definition of LGBT+ people as valueless if they refused to do so.
If the LGBT+ community did not in fact have any value at all, we would not be getting noticed like we are. Society at large—the religious right, the conservative politicians, the closed-minded bigots who hate us for their own reasons—wouldn’t be fighting back so hard against the advances we’ve made for our equal rights. We have political clout now, enough to make the president of our country command schools to allow trans students to use the locker rooms and restrooms which coincide with their gender identity. We’ve won the right to marry. A community without any sort of value doesn’t get these rights. It remains hidden, secret, conforms to the status quo, and thus tacitly agrees to the opinion that it is a valueless community which has nothing to offer society at large.
But now, our contributions are recognized. Not just politically either. We’re recognizing LGBT+ art and literature. We’re working to gain wider and better representation in media overall, particularly in film and TV. We’ve established places where we can feel welcome, included, and valued as individuals. We annually have rallies, throughout the summer, celebrating our very existence and our pride in that existence. We have a history, are living an active and vibrant present, and are proving to everyone who hates and fears us that we have a future. We’re telling society at large that we’re not going away.
This shooting in Orlando wounded us. But it also made us stronger and more determined. Some—many—of us may be afraid, but we have the courage to continue fighting. We’ve won too much to stop now. We’re here to stay.
We’re not going away.