For the last few days I have really struggled with my emotions. I flip between sadness, anger and terror. There are 49 people dead and 53 injured in Orlando. I’ve said prayers and tried to figure out how this could happen. Maybe I’m naive but I truly try to see the good in people but I can’t see the good in any of this. I’ve asked why a hundred times without any solace or answers. My older brother is gay and so am I. I had a role model in my life who taught me about the gay scene in Boston. Who took me to lunch at Club Cafe when I was a kid and told me that at night it’s a gay night club. When I was 16 my best friend Dan and I snuck into Avalon on a Sunday night, gay night! Someone told the bouncer I was a rapper from the UK and that I was just in town for a show. They let Dan and I in, he was supposed to be my backup dancer. My English accent was on point that night. I didn’t drink or do drugs I just wanted to know what this life was all about. It was mostly men but they were men like me. We had a common denominator, we were all gay. I danced that night like I would never get back in.
There was a place in the city that gay teens could go, it wasn’t a night club it was more of a support group, it was called BAGLY, Boston Alliance for Gay and Lesbian Youth. Dan was my counter part, we would trek our butts on the bus to the train to get to a place with people like us. I thank GOD for places like this. I met people who made me feel like it was ok to be myself. It would be years before I went to another gay night club. I was 19, I figured out how to make a very impressive fake id and used it to get into The Randolph Country Club. I went there often. It was close to my house, it was set really far back in a parking lot that almost hid the entire building. Once upon a time it was an actual country club, there was a pool and volleyball court, it was like gay Club Med on a budget. I’d eventually become a cocktail waitress out by the pool then move up to a bartender. I was with people like me. I was figuring out how to be me. Being gay is still not fully accepted in this country. We’ve made amazing strides, I’m legally married to another woman which still blows my mind. The bottom line though, this was a hate crime. Pulse was a sanctuary for these people. A place where they could go and be themselves. To meet people like them and enjoy being together without someone looking on in judgement. We have made many strides in this country but when we’re arguing over bathrooms and whether or not someone has a basic human right like marriage or the fact that people can still get fired for who they love, enough has not been done.
I was a fearful kid, I was not proud to be gay. I did not come out happily. It was something I struggled with. I’m telling you about all of these places because any of these places could have been Pulse in Orlando. It was just a building where people went to be themselves. My heart is broken. My wife and I sat and cried watching Anderson Cooper try to pay tribute to each person that perished. On Sunday morning I sat at friend’s house watching the news about how all of these people died. We were all meeting up because it was LA Pride. We were all going to the parade when one person got a text from a friend saying that a man with explosives, automatic weapons and ammunition was arrested after his car was searched and he stated he was on his was to the gay pride parade.
What is happening in this country? What are we doing to cause enough distress that young men need to go out and kill as many human beings as they can. HUMAN BEINGS!!!! Sandy Hook should have been more than enough reason to change everything about our view of guns and mental health. Yes, I said guns and mental health because they go hand in hand. The Orlando shooter’s father went and removed this man’s wife from their home because he was beating her, he didn’t think that maybe he needed psychiatric help?!?! The FBI had looked into this man multiple times and he was still able to buy an automatic weapon?! I know I’m saying things that everyone has already said it just boggles my mind that this has become a normal thing in this country. To hear that 49 people died makes us sad but does it push for change or do we just sit and wait until it happens again?! We can all pray until we’re blue in the face but that will not prevent this from happening again. Prayers are not enough. When it happens again, because it will happen again we’ll have the same conversations that we’re all having now, “Something needs to done about this…” but what are we doing? In order for anything to happen we have to make it happen. We need to be the change. I can’t tell you how to do it, I don’t know how to do it but something needs to happen and I think it has to start with us.