Sunday morning, like everyone else, I woke up to stories of the Pulse Night club shooting. Being two hours ahead of my friends on the west coast, My morning texts from Texas broke the news to people I care about in the Queer community. Long time members and leaders in that community. People who have marched and struggled and protested and fought for the right to be who they are and love who they love. I had to tell someone who fights this fight every day, whose experiences in this fight are invalidated every day, someone that has lovingly mentored countless LGBTQ women and men into self acceptance and led, by fearless example, an authentic life at great personal cost on through to immeasurable gain. I had to tell that person that not only had our country been attacked, but that their community had been targeted with a yet unseen level of brutality.
Her response, unique and individual as it was, echoed that of thousands of Men and Women feeling just like her. I could hear the disbelief and shock that follow these massacres. Her voice was wrought with the confusion and anger that accompany the pain of a national tragedy…. And woven in through it all, reverberating off of every word, was the kind of anguish that says “This is personal”. Anxiously, my friend rushed off the line. Then, with the readied weariness of a heart accustomed to stitching it’s wounds with one hand, while wielding a sword with the other, she went out to be with her community. Her family.
A vigil for the victims held in San Francisco
Through the phones and photos of my friends and the postings of strangers on social media, I got to watch our nation’s LGBTQ community come together as one family. Not just to grieve, not just to support one another, not simply to remember the lives that were lost, but to honor those lives by fortifying their collective commitment to the fight for equality. It was beautiful and moving to witness, to see strangers embracing on the street with no pretense, purely because the only place they felt safe that day was in the understanding arms of each other, to feel the energy of unconditional love pouring from the hearts and streets of thousands. It was truly touching to watch as this body of individuals mobilized, galvanized to action not by unified hatred for a common enemy, but by a deeply abiding love for one another.
Later that morning as I scrolled the news stories, my fixed look of poignant disbelief turned to jaw dropping rage at the sight of Lt Gov Dan Patrick’s beyond tactlessly timed Tweet.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s tweet the morning of the shooting.
I was mortified. I have always been proud to be a Texan, but in that moment, I felt nothing but embarrassment. The insensitivity, the air of sardonic disrespect, the lunacy of its presumption were bad enough on their own. To make a divisive statement just hours after such a massive loss of life, adding insult to injury in the most painful and distressing moments for the survivors and the victim’s families, to GLOAT at a time like this, is unspeakably evil. To align yourself with a hatred so intense and delight in the suffering of others is a new low, even for a man like Dan Patrick.
So, let me be one of the many Texans to offer my most sincere apology, on behalf of the more compassionate residents of our great state.
The Lt Gov does not speak for me. The legions of like minded bigots running to the defense of the Lt Gov do not speak for me. The religious extremist, their apologist and those who perpetuate from the pulpit the lie that homosexuality is an unforgivable offense to God, do not speak for me. Those who have remained silent, expressed no outrage, shown no sympathy, could muster not even a small show of solidarity, do not speak for me.
They do not speak for MANY Texans.
We stand with Orlando. We stand solemnly, with our fellow Americans, in solidarity with the LGBTQ Community. We share your pain. We see your strength. We send our love ….And for you tonight , there is a break, ‘Deep in the Heart of Texas’.