For a class I am in, we have to create a video project that showcases someone as a witness to an event in history. My mind immediately jumped back to a little over three months ago, on June 12, 2016. On that day, a gunman attacked a gay bar/nightclub, killing 49 and wounding 53. In the days that followed, I saw numerous, surprising comments on the various social media feeds of my LGBT+ friends, questioning how on earth they could be so upset when they did not know any of the victims of the attack.
Even though it will be difficult for me and my friend helping me with the project to revisit that day, we both felt that it was necessary; to once and for all silence those comments.
We (the LGBT+ community) were shaken to the core. One year prior, in the same month, the Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution requires states to recognize and license same-sex marriage. This was a huge victory in the long war for equality. It was a positive turning point, at least, many thought. It seemed safe to be out, that, even though there were still those who strongly opposed marriage equality, the majority supported it, and in turn, supported us.
However, June 12 changed that for me and many close to me. It reminded me and those close to me that, even though marriage equality was a victory, it was simply a battle victory, instead of winning the entire war for equality. Even though marriage equality was legal and many supported me when I came out, it reminded me that, simply for being me and loving who I love, someone would kill me, without hesitation. Those same people would not hesitate to kill some of the people closest to me, simply for being them and loving who they love. Even though I was not there and did not know anyone there, Pulse f----d me up.
It very easily could have been me. It very easily could have been some of my dearest friends. If it was us, our lives would have been ended for something as deeply ingrained in us as the color of our eyes. It would have been simply for being who we are. Even though it is a better world for us to be out in, it is still very dangerous. I was terrified of coming out at the time I did, which was before all of this happened. My heart breaks for those who hid themselves deeper and deeper in the closet because of what happened. For me, the closet was hell, and I would not wish that on anyone. I promise you, if you are closeted, like those before me promised me, that, yes, it will be hard, but you have nothing but love and support from me and this community.
Due to what happened in June, if I hold someone's hand in public, I'll take an extra glance around. Due to what happened, I am even more hesitant to display affection in public. (Side note: I was already hesitant just because of my nature.) The attack on Pulse was not a direct attack on me or my friends, but it was an attack on our community, our people. That is why we mourned. That is why we fear. That is why the story of Pulse must not be forgotten. That is why I felt the need to write this, to embark on this project with my friend; to explain something that should not be forgotten. That is why I am taking the time to explain why I reacted so strongly, even though I did not know anyone there nor was I there myself. Yes, I am out and usually proud, but the events of June 12, 2016 reminded me that it is still very dangerous to be so.
My hope is like the hope of many before me, that we (the LGBT+ community) will overcome, and prove once again, that love is stronger than hate, and that, in the end, love will win.