As many have pointed out, last year at this time we were celebrating same-sex marriage being legalized in the entire United States. This was a joyous occasion and a great step forward, and yet here we are today mourning the 50 lives lost and praying for the 53 injured in what is the largest mass shooting in US history. It feels like for every step forward we take 100 -- 103 in this case -- steps back.
This is not even taking into account the discriminatory laws legalized in North Carolina and other states or the other multitude of issues that LGBTQ people still face.
Will this horrifying tragedy be a wake-up call to Americans? I doubt it. Not on the front of LGBTQ rights or gun control.
Despite the cliché, change takes time. There is an ebb and flow to everything; progress and setbacks happen simultaneously. It’s enough to drive you crazy and make you lose any hope that change will ever come.
The thing about change is that it is slow and not always easily visible. Sometimes there are no obvious benchmarks of change. Tonight all those changes seem rather inconsequential because they didn’t save the lives of any of those people.
It is with all that in mind, plus the inherent sadness of the situation, that I try to come to terms with the dizzying spectrum of emotions I am feeling. All that I can really think of is: Which emotion is going to help me make the most change? Which emotion will propel me forward in helping my community?
It’s too soon to tell which it will be, but right now it feels like it is anger. Anger gets things done. Anger makes you want to do things. Anger is like a fuel because you want it out of your system. You want to be calm again, to live in a world where this anger is unnecessary, where it isn’t justified.
Where that anger is directed is important, though. It can’t just be seething rage or tears in a locked room. That does nothing but drain all of your energy. It’s got to be anger that’s funneled into activism, whatever that ends up being. That makes all that anger worth it.
In this specific situation, it's important to remember that our anger should be directed towards our society, which still encourages homo and transphobia, and at our lack of tight gun control laws, not at Muslims.