People want to kill me.
Sorry, that was too deliciously melodramatic not to open with. Now that it’s out of my system, let me back up.
I’m currently conscious that people want to kill me. It’s probably the first time that it’s been a conscious, active awareness.
I’ve known that people think I should die for being under the Queer umbrella—that they might passively pray for it, preach about it, maybe even deign to say it to my face.
But the Orlando shooting was the first time I had the icy realization that there are people who would actively take measures to end my life.
Some say it’s my generation—that we Millennials have been spared the active, moving-beyond-dislike-into-murder kind of hatred that other LGBT faced several generations ago.
To some extent that is true. It’s a testament to how far we’ve come that law enforcement will help hold space for a Pride parade instead of hauling people out of bars and beating the shit out of them for being gay.
It’s a testament to how far we’ve come that many teens and young adults can attend safe spaces on school campuses.
It’s a testament to how far we’ve come that religious institutions have begun the slow paradigm shift towards acceptance.
Yet, we haven’t come so far that Orlando is the first time that Queer people (especially Queer people of color or Queer people raised in fundamentalist homes) of my generation or younger have faced life-threatening prejudice. People are still beaten up, kicked out on the street, or murdered for their gender identity or sexual orientation.
Orlando is just the first time that many in my generation have seen that hatred directed at so many people in a single incident.
Then again, it’s the largest mass shooting for our nation in a long time, so millennials aren’t the only ones having a “first” in this sense (Contrary to popular opinion, it isn’t the largest in the history of the nation as this article points out).
Being forced to confront how deep someone’s hatred of you runs is a daunting feeling, but once the initial shock of it wore off, it reminded me of an idea that took root reading Shiri Eisner’s book Bi: Notes for a Bisexual Revolution.
My very existence is a revolutionary act that undermines a prejudicial society.
Simply by living and refusing to be erased or cowed into submission, my life becomes a big “fuck you” to everyone who would try to control me. People can do a lot of things, but they can’t take away my self-awareness or my pride. They can try to oppress me or destroy me, but they cannot change who I am.
Ultimately, it’s the fact they can’t prevent my existence that makes them truly angry and bound for failure no matter how they might want to end my existence.
There’s something powerful and elegant in that realization.
To live my life like a declaration of independence, not like an apology.
To not let fear dictate who I love—or who I hate.
To live my life authentically and do all I can to support others doing the same.
P.S. As a political side-note, right now people want my “agenda” to be trying to strip people of their fifth amendment rights, but I refuse to let my radical existence be hijacked so that others can be oppressed. We’ve come a long way as a Queer community. We’ve made a lot of progress. But we’re not done. The fight for recognition of civil rights (for everyone, not just ourselves) and the protection of rights already recognized is an ever-present struggle.