Yesterday, my sister graduated from college, and as I watched her walk across the stage, I was filled with an incredible sense of joy.
I was thinking about that moment, watching my sister collect her degree, knowing how hard she worked, and how she had struggled because of her learning disabilities. Knowing how that moment – when she became what she had worked so hard for - was unparalleled because she did it, and she did it all on her own.
My sister is like my child. For years I have been responsible for her well-being and her care. For years I have yearned for her happiness and her success. We have celebrated her achievements and consoled each other during challenges. I dream of her life, her future, and live in fear that she will experience pain, that someone will hurt her, or break her heart.
She is like my child, but she is not my child. I know that there is a love, a love for a child, that makes the love that I have for my sister pale in comparison.
I fear that love, the love that stems from the role of a parent, by birth or by some other means, and I fear that the love that I would feel for my own child would devour me like a million suns and I would burn up completely. I see the fierce, consuming love my friends have for their children, and I cannot imagine what it would feel like to love someone that completely, and lose them so hatefully.
But here we are in 2016, and we are a country filled with hate. Our pockets of love struggle to exist within the festering cancer of the cruelty espoused by our elite. Our obsessions with bathrooms, and other people’s expressions of love, and who one goes to bed with, have turned us into monsters who would destroy young, beautiful lives, because we believe that it’s ok to do so.
We are so consumed by judgment, criticism, cruelty, and hate that we would deny others love, companionship, laughter, and passion because… Because what? I don’t even know anymore how one justifies the taking of another’s life.
We do not deserve our children, for we are incapable of caring for them.
How I ache for the mothers and fathers who received text messages from their children, telling them that they loved them and telling them that they were about to die. How does one reach through that abyss, and take hold of the life that they created and nurtured, and gather it in, and keep it safe?
Was Orlando an act of terror? Was it a hate crime?
A man raped an unconscious woman behind a dumpster, he sent pictures of her to his friends. His father cries that his son will no longer enjoy steak, his mother bemoans her inability to hang new photos.
Have we become so callus, so cruel, that we can accept this as the norm?
I want to pull my heart from my chest and tuck it away so that it can heal, because over the last few weeks, the world has become too much to bear. The hate become too much to exist in spite of.
But as Lin-Manuel Miranda said, “love is love is love is love,” and he is so right, and so true. Love is love is love is love. Don’t pray. Don’t hope. Don’t wish. Love.
One of my favorite things about the LGBTQ community is how, when faced with violent challenges, it becomes more wholly itself. The music gets louder, the drinks flow faster, the hugs are tighter and longer.
Shanna says that that is because to live one’s life as an LGBTQ person is to embody the protest.
So, what can we do? How do we exist amongst the jagged edges of hate and bigotry?
Embody love. Love in spite of those that would wish to divide. Hug, kiss, touch, make love, hold someone close and whisper that you think they are beautiful. Go to Hydrate, Roscoe’s, Boystown, and hug a stranger, tell them you love them, because the only way to fight the hate is to love.