I woke up on Sunday and heard the news and held my baby daughter close as I wept and apologized for this world, this world, this messed-up world. Forty-nine people killed by a hate-filled man armed with a military-grade weapon "designed for slaughter in war zones."
Throughout the day, politicians tweeted out their "thoughts and prayers for the victims," and we had yet more national flash-debates about terrorism and religious extremism and gun control. There's been plenty said about all of that, and I don't have anything intelligent to add right now (although I need to say: No one needs a fucking AR-15 and they should be banned tomorrow).
But one thing that struck me was the characterization of who, exactly, was "under attack."
I heard Orlando was under attack. I heard America was under attack.
No. This wasn't about a particular place but a particular identity: the people at Pulse were targeted because they were gay. The GLBTQ community, specifically, is what was under attack. They were murdered because of who they love. We need to say it. Say it loud. Say it with agony: 49 PEOPLE KILLED IN GAY NIGHTCLUB BY HOMOPHOBIC GUNMAN WHO WANTED TO KILL GAY PEOPLE.
Yes, the President said it; Hillary Clinton said it; I saw plenty of people on social media saying it. But still, not enough people said it. The message didn't seem to resonate.
As far as I can tell, every well-known Republican politician sent out cut-and-paste prayers for the people killed. They dug deep into the gunman's past and religion, but never once noted that he was killing people for being gay; in the process, they tacitly denied the essential fact that the root cause of this heinous act was not a specific religion but a deep homophobia. And they certainly didn't say that homophobia is all too common across the religious spectrum in this nation, and all too deadly--this is part of a broader history in this nation of attacks on GLBTQ people. (See also: The guy who was planning to attack the LA Pride Parade this weekend. Trans people or people suspected of being trans attacked in bathrooms. The bombing of the UpStairs Lounge.)
Here is what I want to say.
You can't eradicate a sickness until you identify what it is and what it's doing. When you talk about solidarity, know exactly who needs your solidarity. Don't say you stand with Orlando. Say you stand with the GLBTQ community.
If that makes you feel weird, remember how you added a French flag to your Facebook avatar after the Paris attacks last autumn, because even though you're not French, you wanted to express solidarity with a community under siege. Remember how you proclaimed "Je Suis Charlie" after the Charlie Hebdo murders, even though you're not a cartoonist--but you support free speech (even if it makes you kind of uncomfortable) and it's important to show your support for anyone targeted in such a way.
It's pretty basic. All I'm asking is the same thing here. Specific, outward solidarity and empathy with the community under attack. Je Suis GLBTQ. Support the idea that people should be allowed to love whoever they love (even if it makes you kind of uncomfortable). There's a lot more that we need to do to combat homophobia and support the GLBTQ community--here are some resources--but as a baseline, the absolute least we can and must do, is call out hatred when we see it.
I ended Sunday as I began: holding my daughter, weeping. Not just for the dead but for the living--particularly those who have the loudest, most powerful voices--who can't summon the basic decency to identify homophobia as a menace and to push back against it.
If they won't even mumble it, the rest of us need to shout it from the rooftops. I stand with the GLBTQ community--friends and family and strangers. I support you and love you just as you are, and I'm gonna keep fighting for your rights.
(Oh, and I'm closing the comments because I don't have the energy to moderate.)