Yesterday, I struggled to find the words to describe the 15th annual Philly Trans Health Conference. I struggled to define this unique sense of community and acceptance that permeated the air. Much like last year’s conference, I had no way to convey what every single attendant felt, walking the halls together, learning and growing and being together.
Yesterday, my heart soared with joy. Yesterday, we walked arm and arm down the streets of Philadelphia, proudly wearing the trans colors, proudly bearing shirts and pins and necklaces that proclaimed our trans and ally status.
Yesterday, we made bold proclamations, about not worrying about the hate groups and bathroom bills, after being around such a loving and generous group of people. How could we not defeat our enemies? How could our love not be victorious? Yesterday, we didn’t worry about tomorrow or next month or next year. We didn’t worry about our children knowing hatred and fear and discrimination. Not yesterday. Not surrounded by so much unconditional, overwhelming love.
Yesterday, we laughed in the face of our fears.
Today, I struggle with the words to tell my son.
Today, I woke to news of tragedy, an attack on our community. Pulse nightclub in Orlando was targeted at 2 AM on June 12th, 2016. A man opened fired in an organized and deliberate attack, killing 50 people and wounding at least 53 more.
Regardless of how many politicians and media outlets are trying to spin it, this was a hate crime against the LGBT community.
How do I tell my son about what happened? How do I describe to him the horrific events that led to the death of fifty people in his community? How do I explain a hatred so overwhelming and terrifying, that it results in the worst mass shooting in US history?
How do I make him understand this kind of evil, when only yesterday he wrapped his arms around my neck and whispered, “this was the best weekend ever”?
The attack at Pulse nightclub was a message. A message meant for me, for my son. For my friends and my loved ones. For my community. A message meant to drive us back into the closet, make us afraid to go out, to gather, to be ourselves, to be free.
Afraid to live.
Today, fifty beautiful, authentic souls joined the many thousands upon thousands of others who have died for the crime of not adhering to some arbitrary social standard. Who have died for not living by the rules and expectations others have imposed on their bodies and their lives.
Who have died for refusing to be anything other than themselves.
Their lives were worth living, openly and authentically. My son’s life is worth living, opening and authentically.
His life and theirs are greater than one man’s hate.
I know what I will tell my son, about this tragic event.
Today, fifty beautiful, authentic souls died as heroes.
Don’t miss my video from Listen to Your Mother Chicago 2015 where I share my story of Jake’s transition.
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