I know that I haven't been blogging a lot. This year, I decided to continue my college career through the summer instead of taking a break. Aside from that, I've been busy with my internship at Gladeo, blogging for Geekly, and working with Junior Achievement for the 2016 National Student Leadership Summit.
But today, I decided to break my silence.
A lot of us have seen the news. What people are calling as "the deadliest shooting in American history" happened last night at a nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Around 2AM, a shooter armed with an assault rifle and a handgun opened fire to innocent people who wanted to spend their Saturday night having fun. About 50 people died. Another 53 are injured.
Because one man apparently saw two men kissing in Miami two months ago.
The father of the suspect (who was killed around 6AM after holding several hostages at the venue) said that this act was a result of his son's homophobia. Apparently, two men kissed each other in front of his son in Miami two months ago, and he was displeased with it.
So he went on and slaughtered innocent people at a gay club.
When I found out about this, a hole started to grow in my heart. This happened only a few days after Christina Grimmie was murdered by a deranged man during her own meet in greet. In the same city. There is a profound sense of fear inside me that I cannot explain. Someone saw two men kissing, and decided to kill 50 more and wound 53.
And then I saw these.
In the wake of tragedy, there are people who say these things onlineonline. 50 people who had lives, loved ones, and dreams lost everything because of an act of intollerance, and people somehow find sympathy with their murderer.
I AM OVER IT.
Just a few hours before, I made plans with a few of my friends to attend San Francisco Pride on June 26th. I've never been to pride. I wanted to celebrate compassion with my gay brothers and sisters. When I woke up and saw what happened in Orlando, I immediately began to doubt whether I should go or not, especially after seeing this:
I've also seen a lot of people posting online that they aren't going to pride this year. So I sat down, gave it a thought, and asked my friends what they wanted to do. I saw people posting about their fears and anxieties, as gay people are being slaughtered in clubs and heavily armed men are conspiring to attack civilians in Pride. Is it worth it? Is it worth risking my safety?
Do you know why? Because in the midst of all the violence, the gay community stands strong. Thousands of people are lining up in hospitals in Florida to donate blood to the injured. Apparently, gay people aren't even allowed to donate blood. Pride isn't about going out there to look sexy and show off your summer body. It's not about going out there to get drunk and wear colorful attires. You're not there to look at hot guys and find a hookup. You're there to CELEBRATE. People who don't tolerate our existence are trying to intimidate us from celebrating our solidarity, unity, uniqueness, and existence. By cowering in fear, we let them win. Gay Pride is about celebrating who you are with people like you, because let's be real- we're surrounded by assholes who hate our very existence. People are worrying about the LGBT community raping them in Target bathrooms. We're worried that we might get shot when we're outside. People wonder why we celebrate Gay Pride. "Why do you need to celebrate Gay Pride? We don't have a 'straight pride'? Why are you trying to shove it in our face?"
WE CELEBRATE PRIDE BECAUSE WE LOOK FEAR RIGHT IN THE FACE IN SAY YOU CAN'T BRING US DOWN. NO MATTER HOW HARD YOU TRY, WE WILL CELEBRATE OUR EXISTENCE. GAY PEOPLE ARE HUMAN, JUST AS YOU ARE. WE CELEBRATE PRIDE NOT TO BRING IT TO YOUR FACE, BUT TO BRING AWARENESS THAT WE ARE NOT A SILENT MINORITY WHO WILL NOT BE SILENCED BY YOUR INTOLERABLE BELIEFS AND IRRATIONAL FEARS.
And don't even think about blaming the Muslim faith. The suspect may have been of Middle Eastern descent (and allegedly a part of ISIS), but the radical act of one man does not define an entire minority. After all, how many domestic shootings have we known about that are caused by a white male? Radicalism, regardless of any religion or race, is radicalism. The act of one should not reflect the act of thousands. I see around me that people are so quick to blame people of Middle Eastern descent for a lot of our problems. But as an openly gay man, I know how it feels. I know what it feels to have someone look you in the eye with hatred because you're holding hands with the man you love. I know how it feels to be rejected, afraid to even let myself be known for what I am, because I am scared for my safety. Hell, I was in North Carolina once and I looked behind me once in awhile. I'm a gay MINORITY. I sympathize with everyone who is scapegoated by society for their problems; a group young black men on the street, transgenders trying to pee, a man with a turban boarding an airplane. People fear us, because they want something to fear. They want someone to blame. They want to feel safe, knowing that everyone is like them, rejecting the idea of diversity.
The world is a pretty messed up place right now. In a few months, elections will be held. Whoever takes up Obama's spot will most likely define how some of us are treated for the next four years. Everyone on my timeline is fighting. Hillary this, Sanders that, Donald Trump this, Obama that. This whole election season is messy. In the midst of all of this, people are getting shot because they are a kind of people. Did Christina Grimmie need to die? Did those 50 innocent people need to die?
So I urge you, brothers and sisters, to not cower in fear in the face of those who want to blame you for what you are. While it is important to be safe, we let people win when they get what they want. And what do they want? They want to oppress us. They want us to sit quietly and deal with what they give us graciously. They want to take away our rights to PEE, so they can feel safe. They want to blame us for their irrational fears. They want to bring us down.
YOU ARE WHO YOU ARE. CELEBRATE IT.
Because isn't that what PRIDE is? Be proud of what you are, regardless of sexual orientation, ethnicity, or faith. Do not look into violence as the solution for peace. Accept that not everyone around you is the same. We need an America that breeds compassion for diversity, not an America who wants everyone to be the same to be safe. Celebrate your PRIDE.