It’s been almost a week since the deadliest mass shooting in American history.
And I still have no idea what to say.
Words cannot begin to describe how horrified and heartbroken I feel right now.
49 people died.
49 people lost their lives in the worst hate crime our nation has ever seen. At least 53 more people were wounded.
All because they were at a gay nightclub.
Most Americans are mourning right now, but we’ve failed to come together in solidarity. While I would love to see us united in our grief, I understand the division.
It is frustrating at best and rage-inducing at worst to see the same people who condemn LGBTQ+ people suddenly praying for the Orlando survivors, victims, and loved ones.
I’m a Christian.
I’m also bisexual.
And like many people under the LGBTQ+ rainbow, I will no longer politely discuss my own humanity.
I will no longer quietly defend my sexuality.
I will no longer pretend that your “loving” condemnation is okay.
I posted this to Facebook a few days ago. (This is no longer on Facebook, but the text below is the same).
I don’t really talk a lot about being bisexual. In fact, many of you reading this are probably scratching your heads in confusion because you’ve always assumed I’m straight. (That’s what you get for not reading my blog!) I’m a cisgender woman in a monogamous relationship with a man, who’s not only my husband, but also my first boyfriend. I haven’t faced any direct discrimination for my sexual orientation, although I certainly have for being 1) a woman 2) with curves.But I have spent over a decade listening to friends and family debate my humanity or erase my sexuality completely. I spent 5 years of my adolescence questioning my sexuality and another 7 years completely closeted. Largely because of Christians claiming to “hate the sin but love the sinner.”It doesn’t feel like love when you say homosexuality is a sin.It doesn’t feel like love when you blame survivors of sexual assault and then use our experiences as justification for transphobic laws.It doesn’t feel like love when you say homosexuality is a choice.And it doesn’t feel like love when you say bisexuality doesn’t exist, or it’s selfish, or it’s just confusion, or it’s just a ploy for male attraction, or it’s just homosexuality in denial.So yes, please continue to pray for the survivors of the Orlando massacre and for the families of the victims. But you should also pray for forgiveness for your own culpability in this hate crime.
I am not the only one who has spoken. I’ve read several beautiful pieces that describe how I feel with so much more eloquence than I have.
Samantha Field wrote a strong piece “Yes, You Hate Me: Christians and Homophobia.” (Italics and links original).
When a Christian looks me in the eye and says “of course I don’t hate you!” what they actually mean is something akin to I don’t personally want to assault you with my bare hands. To a conservative Christian, unless they’re actively and personally wishing you —personally– harm, than you can’t possiblyaccuse them of hating you…
To your average evangelical Christian, sin is personal and it is individually committed. They are blind to systems, to institutionalized hatred. They blatantly refuse to acknowledge how every single one of their homophobic actions and beliefs feed into a system of hate…
Believing that I don’t have the right to exist exactly as I am is hatred. Fighting against my civil rights is hatred. Believing that Romans 1 applies to me and that I’m therefore “worthy of death” is hatred. Referring to my existence as an abomination— which has happened to me multiple times over the last few days– is hatred.
Rachel Held Evans gracefully pointed out the hypocrisy of certain Christian leaders now calling for love and prayers.
You can read her entire post in the embedded link above, but I want to focus on a few key parts.
Many of these [Christian] leaders have publicly grieved the massacre and called for Christians to “simply love” the LGBT community in this hour of need…which is good; that’s the right thing to do. But what I’m hearing from my Christian LGBT friends in particular is that these calls to grieve and love ring a bit hollow when coming from pastors and church leaders who have never spoken out about hate and violence directed against LGBT people before or who have spent years perpetuating the very misinformation, stereotypes, and theology that hurt LGBT people every day…
If you wanted to love the LGBT community by “weeping with those who weep,” then there have been plenty of opportunities before Sunday to do so…
There was a body count before Sunday. It’s far easier to weep over a shocking massacre committed by a person claiming another faith than to weep over the millions of small cruelties committed by those in your own community.
Jen Hatmaker has also shared inspiring words to Facebook.
This quote especially resonates with me. “We cannot with any integrity honor in death those we failed to honor in life.”
I have more that I want to say, but I’m just so exhausted. I’m so disappointed.
I want to know why we can’t have a nuanced conversation on gun control. (And as a stickler for proper terminology, why we can’t have a factual conversation using correct jargon).
I want to know why we only talk about mental health right after a mass shooting. I am so proud of friends and family who admit publicly their struggles with depression or anxiety. Last year I blogged about a company trying to destigmatize mental illness. But these voices are too few.
I want to know why we we aren’t talking more about misogyny as an underlying cause of mass shootings, and domestic violence as a warning sign. According to an analysis of five years of data (2009-2015), “in 57 percent of mass shootings, the shooter targeted either a family member or an intimate partner.” Orlando gunman Omar Mateen abused his ex-wife.
I want to know why so many people couldn’t just praise local Chick-fil-A restaurants that gave food and drinks to blood donors on Sunday. Instead I saw mean-spirited commentary insisting the media was refusing to cover this… Or maybe just the less-biased, more-legitimate sources waited until they had factual confirmation of this event, plus a quote from a Chick-fil-A representative. And for the record, other restaurants have also been giving away food and providing support.
It’s 2016, this sort of violence is still happening, and I don’t know why.
I try to love my neighbor as myself.