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Queer Issues

A Few Words About Orlando

I didn’t have the words to express how I felt about what happened in Orlando. I sat on my couch Sunday morning and continued to watch the death toll climb. First it was twenty people. Then it was fifty. Then fifty-three. And the last number I saw before I started to write this piece, was a total of fifty people dead and fifty-three more injured.

One hundred and three people dead or wounded at the hands of a homophobic piece of shit because, according to his father, he saw two men kissing.

There were a number of choices and options available to this unnamed person. He could’ve tried minding his business. He could’ve accepted the world we lived in and went on his merry way. He could’ve prayed to whoever it was he needed to pray to for the strength to deal with what he saw. He could’ve locked himself in a room and just refuse to leave his house for the remainder of his life. And if none of these things worked, he could’ve saved everyone the heartache and killed himself.

Homophobia is not something that should be coddled, tolerated, allowed, or encouraged.

That last sentence might seem harsh but considering the fact he died anyway, it really isn’t that far-fetched of a suggestion.

What I’m trying to make clear, is that under no circumstances should the hatred of another person’s lifestyle or choice incite enough hatred to kill. Homophobia is not something that should be coddled, tolerated, allowed, or encouraged. If the idea of two gay men kissing makes you that upset then you’re well within your right to be. It’d just be better for everyone involved if you kept your ignorant bigoted thoughts and actions to yourself.

It might seem odd that I, a heterosexual black male, would stand with a community I’m not a part of. But this for my friend “K,” who identifies as a bi-sexual black woman. This is for my gay step-brother. This is for Abernathy’s founding editor. This is for the all the people from the LGBTQ community that I interact with every day on Twitter. Folks who’ve provided insights and angles of life I’ve never considered while combating hatred and bigotry from complete strangers.

What happened in Pulse is solely about the members of a community, particularly and especially those of color, who are faced with the unenviable task of navigating both their “otherness” and sexuality in a society that rejects both. I don’t have to be gay to see and understand that struggle.

I’m sorry that you live in a world where people think it’s ok to hate, fear, and kill you simply because they don’t like who you are or who you choose to sleep with.

I’d like to extend my deepest sympathy and condolences to the LGBTQ community. In a country that seems hell-bent on making your lives difficult, I understand the importance of having a safe space. In a country where it’s almost impossible to find respite at church, at work, and in too many cases, at home, I empathize with anyone who’s looking for a place they can be their complete selves.

Not the self you have to “put on” for acceptance. Not the self you have to show to your family so they’ll accept you. Not the self that has to weather the hateful bigotry of strangers. I mean the self that you’re proud of and want to display to the world. It seems that gay clubs in general and Pulse in particular, was that place. I’m sorry that you live in a world where people think it’s ok to hate, fear, and kill you simply because they don’t like who you are or who you choose to sleep with.

I’m sorry that in this time of tragedy all I have to offer is words.

By Garfield Hylton

Garfield Hylton, J.D., is a dark-humored, self-deprecating misanthropist whose only hope of redemption is turning blank Google Word documents into piles of well-executed thoughts. He likes to add the suffix "J.D." on everything he writes because he understands that everything sounds better when coming from a doctor. You can listen to his podcast here: @NWAPcast.