I was awake when the news came on to say that there was a
shooting at an Orlando nightclub. There were few details at the time. The
authorities were still trying to figure out what had happened. Working on my
latest story, I left the news on, curious. Why would I, here on the west coast,
be hearing about a shooting at a nightclub on the east coast?
Before I turned off the TV and went to bed, 20 were listed
as dead, with many injured. I don't think at the time that I fully processed
what had happened. When I turned on the TV several hours later, 50 were dead,
My heart stopped.
It was a gay nightclub.
It was a terror attack.
It was terror.
The TV is on a lot right now, watching the news, seeing the
tears and heartbreak as families and friends realize their loss. I see posts on
social media almost constantly. Every other post a message of despair. People
that were lost, lovers who gave their lives, friends who watched in horror as
those around them died. I hear the stories on TV of cell phones ringing, what
some have come to see a nightmare sound, the cries of those injured, and the
weeping of those that lost a loved one. Sounds uttered by too many people. One
person is too many.
I remember Columbine. I remember 9/11. I remember Sandy
Hook. I remember Paris. And now, I would remember Orlando. I remember so many
times when someone thought they had the right to take away someone's life,
whether because of their religion, their beliefs, their hatred, their perceived
When does it stop? When is enough enough? I can't sleep. I
can't think. Words to describe just about anything seem to be beyond me. I
don't know anyone that died or were injured in this horrible tragedy, not
personally. I have friends who do, fellow authors. I am home safe with my
family. My kids are safe. My family is safe.
And yet, I feel destroyed.
I want to scream "What the fuck is wrong with people?"
Trump blames Hillary and Obama. Hillary blames guns. Others
blame Muslims. A preacher in California blames gays. News commentators on every
channel talk about who is to blame, each one blaming someone or something else.
Religion. Politics. Terrorism. A mad gunman on a rampage. Someone who refused
to hide away so society wouldn't be offended by the sight of two gay men kissing
on the sidewalk.
After watching and crying and raging, I have come to a
conclusion, one I am not happy with, not because it is wrong, but because I
shouldn't have to consider it.
I know who is to blame.
In a world where people who choose to love who they love and
not who they are told to love, are put to death, imprisoned, tortured,
ridiculed, and made to prove they are human beings before they can have basic
human rights...we are to blame because we allow it.
Transgender people using the "correct" bathrooms?
Really? That's what you're worried about? Two men or two women devoting
themselves to each other legally because they LOVE each other? That's what you're worried about? Someone's right
to hold the hand of their loved one as they walk down the street? That's what
you're worried about?
The outpouring of support around the world has been phenomenal,
and while I applaud that, it also makes my heart hurt. Where was this support
last week? Last month? Where was it men and women were being told they did not
have the legal right to marry someone of the same sex, but you could marry
whoever you wanted to? Where was the support when people serving our country and
fighting for our rights were kicked out of the service because of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"? Where was
the support when homosexuals were killing themselves rather than face a world
that told them what they felt was wrong?
It's a little late to be flying the rainbow flag now. The
damage has been done. Today, yesterday, the day before that, and all the days
But sure, go ahead, jump on that band wagon. Wave your flag.
Shout to the world "I support homosexuals"...and
when the fervor dies down and the reporters go away, when Orlando falls from
the news, are you going to put your flag away and go on with your life as if
the world hasn't been broken? How quickly will you forget the faces of those
that died, their names, their smiles, the story of their lives? When the next
big news story breaks, will you even remember those that still cry or who were
Yesterday, my heart shattered. I felt terror. Horror. Grief.
Everyone tells me that I should aim my anger at gun control, Islamic
I'm angry at myself.
I told myself I did enough by writing my stories and
spreading the love. I donated to LBGTQ charities. Hell, I organized 25 authors,
an editor, cover artist, and publisher and got them all to agree to donate 100%
of the proceeds of a book to LBGTQ charities. I taught my children to believe
in who they are, no matter who they are, and to accept others who did the
same. I stood up for my college roommate and gave him a home when his family refused
I told myself I had done enough.
Until there are no more tears of sorrow, it will never be
enough. Until it isn't even a question that everyone
has the same rights, it will never be enough. Until someone doesn't feel
they have the right to spread their hate by taking the lives of so many
innocent people, it will never be enough.
I don't care what religion you are, what your political
beliefs are, where you live, how much money you make, who you love, don't love,
or disagree with. You do not have the right to hurt someone because of it.
If you don't like what you're seeing, look away. If you
don't like what you're hearing, plug your ears. If you don't like the way
someone kisses someone else, don't look. If something on TV offends you, turn
it off. If you don't like gays, don't go to a gay nightclub. If you don't like
peeing in a bathroom with someone who is transgender, pee at home. If you don't
like the idea of two men or two women getting married, don't attend the
freaking wedding. If you don't like something, you don't have to see it, hear
it, be around it.
You have that right!
You don't have the right to take that from someone else.
YOU DO NOT HAVE THAT RIGHT!
A man, who the world will vilify because of what he has
done, decided he had the right to end the lives of so many people because of
his beliefs or because he was offended by something he saw or because...because...because...Was
he an Islamic extremists? Psychotic? Did he have mental health issues? Was he
an abuser? Was he a gay man living in the closet?
Does it matter?
We're looking for answers. I understand that. We want
someone to blame. We want to pin a label on this evil and put it into a nice,
neat little box that we will never open again...until the next time. And until
we can honestly learn from these horrors, there will be a next time. We are a
society destined to repeat our mistakes until every man, woman, and child has
the right to live their lives as human beings. My heartache at what has
happened in Orlando is blended with my heartache that we will never learn from
There is no magic wand that will make this tragedy make
sense because there is no sense to it. There is no "possible motive" that makes any of this even remotely okay or
even understandable. It's not guns, religion, politics, extremist beliefs,
hatred, confusion. There is no right or wrong answer.
In trying to find answers, I learned that there are none.
And my heart cries.