Flowers covered the entrance of the inconspicuous Stonewall Inn in New York. A mostly silent, sad crowd of 30-something young men and women was busy writing placards bearing the names of the victims, affirming that WE ARE ORLANDO, and should KEEP LOVING, KISSING AND DANCING. My favorite sign was NRA= DEATH.
A young man handed me a small sign. I kept carrying it with me during the evening as if it were a message from the dead. It read FUCK BIGOTRY. I agreed with its meaning, though I would have put it less bluntly or offensively. The incongruous sign made me, an old lady, popular. People repeatedly asked to take my picture. Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo were expected to speak within the hour.
I miss David, my son, dead from AIDS twenty-three years ago; his death in part also caused by the indifference and prejudice of the government, who did too little, too late. How many senseless massacres do we to have to undergo before all Republican, Democratic and Independent government officials come up with some gun control?
Omar Mateen used a AR-15-type assault rifle that, depending on the type and in moderately capable hands, fires 180-800 rounds of ammunition per minute. The gun is not marketed as assault weapon—but as a modern sporting gun. For a mere $600-1000, you too can own one. Just go into any gun shop—and if you are dissatisfied with your job, your country, your education or anyone’s sexual orientation, just fire away.
Probably you too will get killed in the process, so you won’t have to deal with those you have bereaved. As the mother of a gay son I identify with the parents of those who lost sons and daughters in Orlando. Regardless of whether they had welcomed their gay child or still struggled with his or her orientation, they know that their life will never be the same.
I am thinking of the families and friends of victims, of the children and teachers of the Sandy Hook tragedy, of the students and professors at Virginia Tech, of the health workers in San Bernardino, of the spectators at the movie theater in Aurora, and of the babies left by the terrorists themselves, burdened by the crime of parents they never knew.
This is LGBTQ Pride Month. For centuries the gay community fought for recognition. It was really bad to be gay in America in the past, and it is still so today in many parts of the world. In 1969, however, the customers of the Stonewall Inn resisted being abused by the New York City police, and the ensuing battles were the beginning of gay liberation. Ever since, the small space in front of the Stonewall Inn at Christopher Street and Sherman Square are the sites at which the LGBTQ community assembles to celebrate victories and losses. Unfortunately most discriminated-against groups realize that acceptance can be fragile. The events in Orlando demonstrate that not everyone subscribes to it.