Guest Feature: #PrayForOrlando

People gather at a vigil in solidarity for the victims killed at Pulse nightclub in Orlando in New York on June 13, 2016. The American gunman who launched a murderous assault on a gay nightclub in Orlando was radicalized by Islamist propaganda, officials said Monday, as they grappled with the worst terror attack on US soil since 9/11. / AFP PHOTO / KENA BETANCURKENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images

I apologize for the length of this post but I need to get some things off my chest. It has been days since we heard about the horrific events in Orlando and I still can’t process it.  I know there’s no logic to senseless acts so it’s difficult to reason in your heart and mind.  I thought I was okay about it, but as days  passed I realize I am in mourning.  Mourning those that were murdered and injured but also for thinking that we were at a place with our humanity that this no longer happened.

It’s made me ponder issues that I thought were resolved within me but it has stirred up some concern and anxiety for the future.  As a boy and a teenager I felt I had to hide the fact I was different.  It was scary growing up knowing you’re gay, there’s an insecurity and fear that doesn’t let you put your guard down or be who you really are. Being bullied was a daily occurrence for me; fear of being beaten up was a day to day emotion.  As I got older I knew you could be killed for being LGBTQ as you could read about people who were. When you keep a secret and hide yourself you are prevented from sincerely connecting with family, friends as there is something that in the back of your mind that told you if they find out you lose everything and you are unlovable, a degenerate a type of evil. So you push this down into your deepest depths so not to be found out and you live a lie. If you are strong enough you don’t let thoughts of suicide to be your only escape.  I also have to mention I have the good fortune to have a great supportive family, who I took way too long in letting them know who I truly was and so appreciative that they accepted me for who I am and who I choose to love. I am one of the lucky ones there are so many who don’t have the family and friends I have.

Once I came to the city, I found my community of friends and a chosen family who accepted me, loved me and d
id not judge me.  I remember the very first time going into a LGBTQ bar, I was even frightened of being with other people just like me. I was 23 and I loved music and loved dancing.  It was an experience I will never forget cause within a couple of hours I finally felt like I belonged to something, that everyone was like me and that nobody there would ever harm me. I felt at peace with myself, and safe.  The clubs and bars are a safe haven for the LGBTQ community.  It’s one of the only places you can express yourself without fear, let down your guard and know in your heart you are not depraved.  There was an incredible weight that was lifted from me it was like seeing light for the first time and I was finally somewhere SAFE! Imagine the first time in your life you feel safe in of all places a bar, protected by a community of colourful characters that were just like you shinning their light for everyone to see. Even as I watched my community be ravaged by AIDS and many friends passed  we continued to commune together to be with and help each other and above all dance our troubles away and raise our spirits.

Mourners gather under an LGBT pride flag flying at half-mast for a candlelight vigil in remembrance for mass shooting victims in Orlando, from San Diego, CaliforniaThis is what those young LGBTQ people were doing in Orlando last Saturday. They were in their safe place where for the couple of hours a week they get to be their true selves, enjoy a few drinks and dance with your own to feel true just for a few hours before having to go back to putting up your shields/walls and dealing with your daily occurrences of bigotry and prejudice.  The demon (whose name I will never speak) walked in there and murdered innocent victims for the only reason of them being themselves.  He tried to instill fear in a community that is always peaceful and only wishes equality for themselves. Equal rights for all is not an unreasonable request, it’s 2016 for fucks sake. 

 I don’t want to know what motivated this demon I can only let you know that his plans to make us fearful of existing didn’t work. The strange thing is once a community is attacked they regroup and have stronger resolve.  I have a few friends that reached out to ask how I was feeling and I am telling everyone I’m shaken but it has made me stronger, prouder, more out, more myself, wanting more for my LGBTQ brothers and sisters. Wanting more humanity for our world.  It demonstrates there is much more work to do, that if one of my community is oppressed than so am I and guess what so are we all. 

Gay Pride Is Celebrated In LondonHaving said all that I want to remind everyone June is Pride month, you can watch an LGBTQ program or movie, read a LGBTQ book enlighten yourself a little you will come to understand there is nothing different about us. If you are an ally then reach out to an LGBTQ friend and let them know you got their back, they will really appreciate the support.  If you are in Toronto you can attend one of the biggest parties this country throws where you can shine your light right along with us.  Pride is for celebrating a community but it’s also about sharing our true selves with each other. You don’t have to wear a pride flag to be an ally, but you can sure have a drink with us and maybe even a dance and this will demonstrate to all our oppressors and people who want to kill us that they don’t even matter. The greatest tribute to those who were murdered and injured is for us to ensure that we live our lives as genuinely as possible.  We will never stop assembling, sharing, dancing, loving and embracing our differences.  I can guarantee one thing WE WILL BE COLLECTIVELY PROUDER, LOUDER AND STRONGER this PRIDE in memory of all who we have lost as the struggle is real and affects all of us not just the LGBTQ community! XO

This post was written by a dear friend who wanted to share this truly heartfelt message with our community #LGBTQvoices #StandWithOrlando #Love 

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