All I want to say about Orlando is

All I want to say about Orlando is

Here in America we have so many mass shootings
It’s kind of our thing
By one count, we’ve had 136* of them
In just 164 days this year.
And most of them …
Well, the ones I hear about, which is a small percentage …
They don’t necessarily
Shake me.

Like Sandy Hook, for example.
I remember friends who are mothers,
How their hearts broke
For the parents of those kids.

Or the Aurora movie theater
Right here
In my own metro area.
So many people I knew
Worried about going to the movies.

But me
I was just
Not thrown

And I wondered
About my lack of grief or fear

Mostly
I felt frustrated

I wanted
To shake
The whole country

I wanted to yell
That it wasn’t about gun laws
It’s about our culture

That these shootings
And the predictable debates
About regulating firearms
Are such despicably handy
Distractions
Everybody gets emotional
Everybody takes a side
We yell at each other for a while
We move the needle a hair
And while no one’s paying attention
A bunch of bullshit gets passed in Congress
And it sort of seems like
That’s the plan

Who does it serve
When we kill each other in this specific way?
Because somebody sure benefits …

And that’s
What I wish
We could focus on

Because
All around the world
People are profiting
From distractions
Just like these

A lot of those people who are profiting
Are Americans

And THAT
Is what makes me
So upset

Because this is our culture
It’s written into the contract
By any means necessary
Profit
Power
Control

And I want
Us to see this

I want
Us to change

I want
Some new values
Here

Well
What’s different about Orlando?

I guess
For me
This is one of the
One of the ones
That hit me
Hard in the chest
Though I didn’t know any of those people
And I’ve never even been to that city

Is it just because I am a queer person
Too?
I have questioned

I don’t feel attacked
And I don’t feel defensive
I honestly don’t even feel
Like gayness is really the point here
In some ways
It’s just another flavor
Of the same shitty medicine
And gayness
Homophobia
Is just
The excuse
There’s nothing new here
Nothing really different
From any other
21st century
American style
Mass shooting

But
Irrationally
I feel
Responsible
For those people
At Pulse nightclub
I feel
Like they were
Part of my family
And honestly
Even if they were my real distant cousins
Who I’d never met

I probably would not feel
So sad

I didn’t know any of them
And who knows
If their experience of queerness
Was ever anything like mine
Who knows
If any of them
Would have felt a connection
To some random lesbian
In Colorado

But I do

And the loss of these lives
I feel
Like a light going out
I feel
Like a sandbag
Hitting me in the chest

It doesn’t make sense
That I should care
Like this

But I do

And I want to say
That the majority of these people
Were also
Not white
I don’t want it to be lost
In this conversation
That these people
Who were chosen
For elimination
Were vulnerable
In multiple ways
In most situations
In life
Not just at the gay bar
But in a society
Where it’s ok
To talk about
The growing proportion
Of the population
That’s Latino/a
Like
That’s a danger
To some
American way

Like they
Were the danger

I want
Us
To be different

And although it will seem to some
Like it’s none of my business
Like I’m getting worked up
By focusing on the negative
Like I am always
Picking a fight

Today
Right now
My whole body
Is full of sorrow
Still

For these lives sacrificed
For the friends and families left behind
And for the knowledge
That this
This
Is what we’ve created
After two hundred and almost fifty fucking years
Of nationhood
This is what we’ve done
With the land
We massacred
The previous occupants
To get

Oh
Fuck
That came out too

Well

It’s part of the same problem.
Mass killing is written into our contract
USA
And we’ll never change
Until we can know that
In our hearts

I keep thinking I’m out of words
But I keep not being

I keep thinking I should shut up
But I keep not

I keep thinking I’m too sad
To talk
So I write instead
And I feel a little better

I’ll quote again
One of my favorite poems ever,
Allen Ginsberg’s “America”

There must be some other way to settle this argument …
America I’m putting my queer shoulder to the wheel.


———-

*That’s defining “mass shooting,” as The Gun Violence Archive does, as “any incident where four or more people are wounded or killed. That number can include any gunmen as well.”

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