A friend of mine lives in Orlando … not a good day there, he says. I agree. Not a good day anywhere, really.
I love Carl Sagan’s book The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark with its reminders that a reason-based approach is never to be taken for granted, and those who cherish reason, science and the resultant benefits (including peaceful co-existence) would be prudent to understand that these values are always actually or potentially under attack.
As a lesbian trans girl, I’m aware that a great many irrational folks are hostile to girls like me, and to gay people in general. Their motivations are probably deeply rooted, but … I’m no psychologist. I can’t explain it. I would love for all of us to live together in harmony, but I’ll settle for non-violence — because then, even if we disagree, we can talk things through and find common ground, or at least understand each other.
A kind friend of mine called me this morning to ask how I’m processing this event. I had a lot to say. There’s much sadness … and more. One innocent person being hurt is already bad; infinitely worse is their supreme value, their life, cut short. Times fifty … I really cannot process it.
This event isn’t about me, and yet I was asked. My friend knows I represent two, three or four of the letters in “LGBT” depending on your definitions. Part of my reply, as to how this affects how safe I feel: it doesn’t. I’m always on guard anyway. I have to be, even in the relatively nice culture where I live.
I recall a bad day, a few years ago, when (looking like the trans girl I am, and wearing a pretty but non-conservative dress) I was walking down a sunlit street in the early afternoon, in a relatively safe part of LGBT-friendly downtown Reno, half a block away from the LGBT-friendly 5-Star Saloon, when a lady in a parked car saw me, lost self-control and started screaming obscenities at me. I walked on. A minute or two later, some guys who were having lunch at a pretty sidewalk-style cafe mentioned how there’s never a shotgun around when you need one … referring to what they wanted to do to me. I walked on. I didn’t generally carry protection then; nowadays I often do. I’d really rather not, but I’m not OK with being a victim to someone’s homophobia.
As news of the Orlando events unfold, it’s interesting how, specifically, homophobia is at the root of the issue. Of course it is; just the details are news.
I sleep a lot better knowing that persuasion, science and reason are my fundamentals in the ongoing battle for survival. They form a powerful shield.
They also imply respect for the premise of tolerance for everyone’s right to live as he or she chooses, as long as he or she doesn’t initiate violence.