After the tragedy of June 12th, everyone had a different response. Those directly affected wept, or are no longer able to weep because they are no longer alive; those who knew people who knew victims shared in their friends’ grief; and those in the LGBT community bore heavy hearts. But others based their responses on their priorities and individual agendas. Immediately, there was the gun debate and rampant Islamophobia.
But there is one other response that grinds my gears: narrative erasure.
Pulse is a gay bar. The shooter was a homophobe. He was filled with hate in his heart after seeing two men kissing.
And if someone’s first response is “Straight people go to gay clubs too!” or “Humanity was attacked today!” they need to take a step back, examine what happened, and mourn for those lost without making it about themselves.
What happened at Pulse was not because heterosexuality was under attack. This attack was not due to the Straight Agenda, nor was it caused because a man and a woman shared a kiss. Straight people were not the target. This was an attack on the LGBT community by someone who despised it.
And to say anything otherwise is doing the same thing society has done for too long: deny the LGBT community of their stories.
Saying that this was an attack on ~*humanity*~ silences queer people in the same way that saying All Lives Matter silences the narratives of black people.
And if you are called out on such harmful behavior, don’t hide in your echo chamber. See what you can learn. Because the worst thing that learning can do is shape you into a better person. Learn about the LGBT community. Learn about the narratives. Allow yourself to be educated, instead of spouting well-intentioned thoughts without realizing the harmful impact they can have. The appropriate response is to apologize, learn, and refrain from that harmful behavior in the future. And if someone wants to plug their ears and close their eyes when confronted with the harsh truth that even the most well-intentioned expressions can hurt, that’s on them.
So don’t turn this tragedy into something that affected ~*humanity*~ – that vague word people say when they want to sound inclusive – say that Latinx LGBT individuals were the targets. This was a tragic attack on the LGBT community, and to say anything otherwise is to withhold information and rewrite history.
So if you’re thinking about avoiding the words Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender while describing this event, or opting for the comfortable phrase ~*humanity*~ – I have two words for you: Just don’t.
Embrace the fact that this tragic event has occurred to a community you may not be a part of. And learn from it.