For a year now, I've been at a point in my life where I don't want to be part of the LGBT+ community. I don't want to have to always have to explain my sexuality to future partners or constantly defend my heritage to my family and those around me because 'only white people are gay.' I hate always living in fear that I will lose my job or be 'correctively' raped or beaten or killed just because of feelings I never wanted to have in the first place. My dreams of having a husband who loves me and children died the day I figured out that I love women, too. I haven't been proud of my bisexuality for so long now.
But then I jumped on Facebook this morning and saw that a mass shooting occurred — targeting the LGBT+ community. The worst shooting in U.S. history; the LGBT 9/11. And my heart broke.
It broke. Those were my people. This happened to my community. This was an attack on me. This could've happened to me.
I saw that one of my good, activist friends organized an impromptu vigil for the victims. I had to go. I had to act.
I was terrified though.
To go out and support the fallen was to renounce the self-hate I've been feeling this past year. This act could've put me directly in harm's way. What if protesters were down there — happy that 50 of my comrades are now dead? What if my boss turns on the news and sees me standing at a candlelight vigil for gay people? What if my mother turns on the TV and cries because her black daughter is with a bunch white people supporting dead gays?
I was scared of all these realities. I live with fears like this daily. But I needed to act. I needed to do something. This was not going to be one of those things I wished I would have went to. This was not going to be another opportunity for my own fears to hold me back. I put on my rainbow bracelets, my bisexual bracelets, my asexual bracelets — and I got on the bus.
I went to the vigil and recorded it live to Facebook. During the vigil, one of the speakers encouraged everyone there to do an act of love. Love would be what conquers the evils done to us. I hugged my LGBT activist friends after the vigil was over. And I decided that my act of love would be a brave act of self-love. Today was a day that I was going to be an out and proud LGBT individual. So, wearing my bracelets and a ribbon commemorating the vigil, I got back on the bus. I ran errands. I walked the streets of downtown Cleveland and Lakewood. I kept my head held high as people stared at my bracelets. I kept my emotions in check when the only symbols in the city of this tragedy was the rainbow flag at half staff over City Hall and a funeral home on West 12th Street. People went about their lives as if nothing happened. As if nothing historic or important was being reported all over the internet and local news stations.
But I wasn't shunned or beaten or raped. I arrived home safely, and with a determination to give myself the chance to love who I am. Because there are too many people that don't love who I am. And one day, I could be one of the faceless victims of another vicious hate crime such as this.
If I can't accept that I am a bisexual female, how will I ever find peace within myself? I'm tired of hating myself. I'm tired of my self-hate holding me prisoner from finding happiness with a man and woman of my dreams. My act of solidarity because of this tragedy is to live my life in pursuit of my own happiness — despite the fear and self-loathing within me. Because that's what the people in Pulse were doing. Living and loving and having fun despite the hate of the world around them.
I pray for you Pulse. May God Bless all the victims and survivors of this tragedy.