Monday, June 13, 2016

Mourning in our own ways

Mass shootings have become so commonplace we can become numb to them, even when they hit close to home. Sunday morning I was reading the coverage in an academic way, trying to learn the what, when, where, and why of the story.

Then I clicked on the video of Christine Leinonen, a mother looking for her son. She had been standing behind the police tape for probably twelve hours.

"They said there's a lot of dead bodies in the club," she said as she started to break down. "and it's a crime scene, they can't identify anybody, so it could be hours and hours..."

I began to cry and have been crying on and off ever since.

Why was nobody standing with her? I wanted so much to be there to hug and support her, but felt helpless.

I've not been a fan of candlelight vigils because I didn't believe they served a purpose, especially when not coupled with what I consider real efforts to make change. But when Jason Brooks invited me to speak at the vigil at Bubby & Sissy's last night I had a change of heart and decided there was indeed value in coming together as a community to mourn.

While at the vigil with my partner a woman standing at a table invited us to join her. "I'm here by myself. You're welcome to join me."

In her reaching out I sensed she needed companionship. I wasn't able to comfort Christine Leinonen, but I could keep this woman company. And so I did. After conversing for a while she told me she didn't come out much, but after watching the news she wanted to be with people. I thought about how sad it would've been had she not found anyone to talk to, and left alone.

But that's the thing about LGBT bars. They're often a place where you can go and find friendly people to talk to, and a place to belong.

Outwardly I'm mourning by expressing anger that politicians are using our tragedy to target other minorities. I'm railing against the NRA. I'm trying to think of ways to make things better. But I'm still weeping with everyone else.

I can't think of any bigger LGBT anthem than "We Are Family" and the line that keeps rininging in my ear is "Just let me speak for the record. We're giving love in a family dose."

We're all different, we all express ourselves differently, but we're all in this together. Let's be there for one another, give space to mourn and vent, and then let's press onward.

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