Blood on the Bar

It was a strange scene; there I was in the Egyptian Room of the Murat Theater surrounded by weeping brothers and sisters, the same brothers and sisters who – not 24 hours ago – were smiling in the sunshine, celebrating another successful Indy Pride Festival.

And now, here we all were, mourning the loss of 50 brothers and sisters in the worst terrorist attack in over a decade. I was weeping myself; I was hurt, angry and confused.

I was angry at the press: As I was going to fill my gas tank before the vigil, I had the radio on and there was a news break where they talked about the terrorist attack and not once did they mention it was an attack on our community. And when I got home, it didn’t change; the major news networks mentioned us only in passing after spending countless minutes speculating about the attacker’s alleged connections to ISIS. It seems we were forgotten, even in death. We were only worth mentioning to stoke this country’s fears of radical Islamic terrorism.

Not even Republicans could take a minute to mention us. Presumptive nominee Donald Trump used the blood of our brothers and sisters to take a “victory lap” and congratulate himself on being “right” on Muslims. Ted Cruz used it to take a swipe at Democrats, saying that if they “really supported the LGBT community” they would support total war against ISIS. Other Republicans merely sent their generic “thoughts and prayers” to our murdered brothers and sisters with no mention of why they were killed.

But the response of the Republicans was nearly kind, compared to the multitude of responses I saw online where there was no mention of the attack itself, let alone why we were targeted. Instead it was a demonization of Islam or the usual rants of, “the government ain’t gonna take my gun!”

Before the last bodies had even been taken from the club, the innocent blood of our brothers and sisters was being used to play political games. All our weeping eyes and hearts didn’t make one damn bit of difference.

I was angry at the culture that allowed this to happen. While we mourn throughout the nation, we still live in a culture that sees us as less than human – whether it was James Dobson of Focus on the Family, who said recently that trans people should be shot for using the “wrong” restroom, or Gov. Bryant of Mississippi, who said he would be crucified before he allowed queer people in Mississippi to have equal rights.

But what angered me most of all was the attack itself. We have achieved much in the last few years, and this was the month where we celebrate our victories won and victories still to come. It was splashed with blood in the blink of an eye. Instead of feeling strong and proud, we felt scared and vulnerable. Our brothers and sisters who were murdered in Orlando did nothing, they were in a club partying, feeling happy and free and a bastard with hate in his heart killed them, for no other reason than for who they were. That’s it, no other reason.

What next? We have buried our dead and we are shedding our tears, but it doesn’t end there. We stand together, stronger than ever. We have received a brutal reminder that we can still be killed for who we are and we can still be ignored even in death. We hug each other, we embrace each other, and we polish up our marching boots for what is to come. I know many brothers and sisters who are just as righteously angry as I am and we will not sit idly by while another brother or sister is buried for who they are.

We will focus our righteous anger and we will march, we will fight, and we will yell in a mighty voice, “WE’RE HERE! YOU CANNOT KILL OUR SPIRIT! YOU CANNOT KILL OUR HEARTS! WE ARE MARCHING NOW AND FOREVER FORWARD AND THIS WILL NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN!”

Honor the fallen and wounded, hug one another, love one another, and march forward without fear.

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