Jun 12, 2016

Orlando

We always remember where we we were, and what we were doing, when we first hear of terrible events, the events that cause the world to become a darker, colder place.

The Assassination of President Kennedy (November 22, 1963)
The Challenger Disaster (January 28, 1986)
The Murder of Matthew Shepard (October 12, 1998)
The 9/11 Terrorist Attacks (September 11, 2001)
The Orlando Nightclub Attacks (June 11, 2016)

6:45 am on the morning of June 12th.  I came into my office in my bathrobe, booted up my laptop, and started working on a blog post.  Suddenly my partner was standing in the doorway.

"Have you seen the news?" he asked.

"No.  Why."

"You lived in Florida -- do you know anyone in Orlando?"

"No.  I lived in Wilton Manors, not Orlando, and I'm not in contact with anyone I knew there except Yuri, who now lives in London, and...why?  What happened in Orlando?"

"Check the news.  Or don't.  Maybe you don't want to know."

So I checked CNN.  Mass murders at a gay nightclub in Orlando.  40 dead.  Then 50.  53 injured.  The biggest shooting mass murder in U.S. history.

Orlando won't be known for the Magic Kingdom anymore.

When I teach criminology, I always tell my students to not be alarmed, the homicide rate in the U.S. is actually decreasing.  Most homicides are the result of arguments going wrong; your killer is very likely to be a friend or intimate partner.  You are more likely to be killed by a bolt of lightning than by a serial killer or mass murderer.

Unless you're queer.  Then they come hunting.  They blame you for everything that goes wrong, from floods to famines to being turned down for a date.  They dream of a world where you don't exist, and they will do anything in their power to help create that world.

They can do quite a lot.  Go to a gay venue, wear a gay pride t shirt, walk hand in hand with your partner, have short hair if you're a woman, sway and swish if you're a man, wear a pink shirt if you're a boy, go out for sports if you're a girl.  You're a target.

So what do we do?  Go back into the closet, drop pronouns, introduce partners as roommates, avoid writing on gay topics, hide?

Or band together and sing, like the MCC "We are fighting for our lives"?

At least times have changed a little.  When the Upstairs Lounge in New Orleans was firebombed on June 24, 1973, 32 gay people were killed, and 15 injured.  The press refused to cover the story, except for a few articles that condemned the victims or made fun of them.

The Orlando tragedy has gotten news coverage.

Presumably Pat Robertson will issue a statement blaming the victims for their own murders, but most politicians and religious leaders have not -- yet.  Except for the Lieutenant Governor of Texas, Dan Patric who posted a celebratory Bible verse on his Facebook page before an aide convinced him to take it down.

Mark Rubio put in a call for blood donations.  Paradoxically, gay men are forbidden from donating blood.

Upon discovering that the killer was Muslim, Donald Trump used the opportunity to reiterate his policy of banning all Muslims from entering the U.S.  He doesn't say what he wants to do with Muslim citizens, 1% of the population.

I hope this tragedy doesn't push him to victory in the upcoming election.  I keep having weird premonitions that this is 1933 Germany all over again.