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  • Writer's pictureCourtney Heard

Orlando: No, You Don’t Own This Tragedy

In the time since the Orlando shooting, we’ve seen a number of odd, hostile and atrociously insulting responses to the tragedy that took forty-nine lives and forever altered countless more. We had the not-so-surprising hateful Christians frothing from their foul mouths that more lives should have been taken. We heard from the Islamapologists, who are darned sure that teaching kids their God wants them to hate the gays cannot lead to those kiddies growing up to, in fact, hate the gays. In fact, some of those Islamapologists went so far as to blame Christianity for the shooting. No real shocker here, we’re used to this growing faction of people who think no harm can possibly come from passages like this:

Orlando LGBT
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: If you find anyone doing as Lot’s people did, kill the one who does it, and the one to whom it is done.

Nope, there is definitely no connection between a people’s most holy prophet commanding the death of LGBT, and a follower of said prophet killing LGBT and claiming that action in the name of the God to whom that prophet owes his prophethood. No possible connection and thank Allah we have the apologists to tell us so!

The strangest reaction, by far, however, is the reaction I caught from several openly bisexual bloggers.

They have repeatedly posed the question:

“Am I gay enough to feel sad about Orlando?”

Oh, my lovely little apostates… if I could express in words how much I wish this weren’t true, I would.

It is, sadly, very true and here’s the gory evidence:

From Ania Onion Bula, who literally has the best name I ever heard,

As we process our grief, I am once again forced to process my identity. Am I queer enough to be allowed to grieve or as a bisexual non-binary woman am I excluded? Do I have a right to feel this as strongly and as personally as I do?

And another from Elle Dowd,

am I allowed to be this upset? Maybe I should only be like, 50% sad.” I tried to make a joke about it, but she knows.
She knows.
You get to be 100% sad, Elle. Because you are 100% queer. And because I am 100% sure that there were bi people in that club, too.

Wait, what?

Yeah, you and me both, Kurt.

This sentiment is more absurd than unfrosted Guy Fieri tips. I don’t quite know how to choke it down. I mean, these two are saying, in no uncertain terms that if a gunman had entered a bar full of straight guys and opened fire, that they would feel no sadness because they’re not allowed to be upset over the deaths of people who don’t share their sexuality. I have no choice but to wonder what else this extends to…

Gender? I mean, according to Elle, because she’s bi, she might only feel 50% sad about this tragedy, but 84% of the people killed were men. That leaves only 16 percent she can identify with speaking only of gender, but wait – we forgot, she’s bi, so she can only feel half sad about those women, too. Now, we have Elle only feeling 8% sad.

But wait, what about race? Elle looks like a white woman, but she might be Hispanic, so we’ll just take the black victims out of Elle’s sympathy calculation: there was one woman of colour who sadly lost her life in Orlando. While her death will be felt deeply by so many hurting people, it only changes how sad Elle can get by a fraction of a percentage.

If we take into consideration gender identity, age, ability and class, though, Elle might have to bottle up even more of her sadness. When it comes right down to it, I don’t think Elle really has a right to be sad at all. I think she should treat this tragedy like she likely treated the bombings in Belgium, or the attacks in Paris: with 0% sadness, because they’re all European, and Elle, well, Elle seems to be an American. She should treat Orlando like she likely treated 9/11, where the victims were majority straight people: with 0% sadness. She should treat it like she likely treated Sandy Hook: with cool indifference because everyone was young – too young to think about sexuality, and unless you got

some gay in ya, Elle don’t give a percentage of a shit.

Where I mostly take exception, though, is what this attitude is saying about people like me. People who have devoted long hours, days and years to standing up for LGBT equality. People who, like me, identify as allies for life and for whom the issue of equal rights for the LGBT community is immensely important. People who would fight by your side, because they are compelled to because they can’t help themselves. People who think the LGBT community adds to this world; people who can’t sit through a coming out video on YouTube without finding the bottom of a box of Kleenex; people who have been a fixture at the side of a friend or a family member struggling with coming out.

You think people like this have no right to feel any sadness over this tragedy, simply because we’re not gay.

If you’ll excuse me, Elle and Ania, but fuck you.

I have a right to my sadness. I have a right to feel gutted over this. I have a right to cry out for change and to stand up and criticize the factors that led to this horrific event. I have a right to feel for the families and the friends and boyfriends and girlfriends, husbands, sons and moms. I have a right to grieve the loss of some beautiful people, gone out to dance, in a world that has just recently begun accepting them.

I have a right to feel for those who are not entirely like me because no one has ever been entirely like me and no one ever will be entirely like me. No Elle and Ania, I feel for my fellow human beings, regardless of race, gender, religion, sexuality, or class, because that is the correct response from a decent human being. It is the expected response from someone who loves people; it is the proper response from a humanist who doesn’t see you vs. me, but who rather sees us.

And when some of us die, we feel it deeply. If you truly feel we have no right to, you’re really no better than an angry pastor celebrating this tragedy. If you really, truly feel that my sexuality strips me of the right to feel over this massacre, you’re no one I want to know.

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