The first time I stepped foot in a gay club, I remember being surprised with the amount of wheelchairs. And not just wheelchairs, but arm braces and crutches and other implements to aid the physically injured or handicapped.
I have spent more than a decade working in bars and restaurants and I had never seen such a large group of the physically impaired enjoying a night out on the town. In the restaurants and bars I was used to working in, we could have a wheelchair-bound person every three months or so, maybe one non-hearing family every couple of years, but nothing to the extent that I saw on that night.
I don’t know what I was expecting… Perhaps a mass of chiseled jaw lines with expertly groomed 5 o’clock shadows, pastel-colored pants and shoes no straight American man would ever wear, but should. (No, New Balances do not go with everything, guys.) Perhaps I expected perfectly coiffed hair and complicated cocktail orders. Yes, perhaps I expected all of that. Despite being surrounded by the LGBT community in college and in my professional life on stage and off, I, too, expected a stereotype.
And, sure, we did dance to Beyoncé and, yes, there were some damn fine dancers in the crowd, but what I got more than anything from that night was a sense of inclusion. A sense of belonging.
Here, under the smoky strobe lights and rainbow-colored flags, could a handicapped person and the able-bodied talk over the din. Blacks and whites, Asians and Latinos, straights and gays and those in-between, tall and short, large and small… all were welcome. No one questioned me or looked at me askance. They did not care that I was straight or that I knew every word to “The Fox.”
I fit in because I didn’t fit in and no one there was going to judge me for it.
Today, my country experienced its worst mass shooting in history. 50 human beings. 50 beautiful souls lost their lives because of one man’s hate.
I am terrified to put on the TV, to switch on the news, to log on to social media. I am afraid of the images, sure, but I am mostly scared that it will all lead to name calling and finger-pointing and a few dumbass bigots who think this was “God’s will.”
I’m also afraid to listen, because I know nothing will change. My country let 27 school children die without any change in gun legislation, what’s 50 more innocent people?
While I can never wrap my mind around how people turn to violence and how someone – anyone – can justify a platform, a belief system, of hate, I do know one thing: the LGBT community will always survive. The LGBT community is founded and rooted in acceptance. Putting up dividers, labeling people as “others,” dehumanizing your neighbor based on their skin color, religious beliefs, or who they love will never make you strong.
Only love can make you strong.
#loveislove and #lovewins And although I am personally finding it difficult to put my heart back together, I know that the heart of the LGBT community will remain intact. I know that we, the loving majority, shall overcome.
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