I’d never been to anything Pride related before this year. I don’t think that before this year I had enough gay friends to go with and before a few years ago I wasn’t even out to my mother…But this year I went. My friends and I stood cheerfully in the light rain under umbrellas on Beacon Street watching various floats, queer sports leagues, youth organizations, high school LGBTQ groups, and politicians march by in a rainbow procession. I’m not a parade person, but it was nice, even in the rain. I went home and took a nap.
That night we reconvened in Back Bay for Club Café, which naturally included over an hour of waiting in line (an entertaining line, though: a fight broke out, a sort of impromptu dance party ensued, drag queens walked by passing out condoms, etc.)—but when we finally made it in we were just fine. In fact, it wasn’t too much more crowded than a regular Friday night… We drank, we danced, we posed for pictures… we laughed and had fun. We felt safe. Little did we know at the time that a spray of bullets was ending the lives of 49 young LGBTQ individuals and allies in a nightclub not unlike the one in which we were dancing.
A few of my friends attended one or another of the vigils that have happened around the Boston area. Vigils are touching to me if only because they involve the efforts of many people standing in solidarity to define a grief that cannot be processed individually. And from each I think they came back with a sense of unity and relief, however partial. Perhaps I appreciate them too for their element of hope.
But I have to say, I’m not a very firm believer in prayer, the sort of prayer that comes in the form of #PrayForOrlando tweets. Having grown up in a family spearheaded by a problematically religious father for whom prayers ended up doing very little, I don’t necessarily know how to react when someone says they will pray for anything. I want to ask them ‘who have your prayers ever really helped’? And I think, if they answer honestly, they will say it only helps themselves, as a sort of coping mechanism, while doing nothing substantial to alleviate the fact that we still live in a country where LGBTQ people face perilous obstacles and where gun violence is still a particularly American epidemic. Of course, if you want to pray, pray away. I just can’t see the point in prayer that isn’t attached to action. I don’t even want to start on those ‘thoughts and prayers’ coming from Republican leaders…
As we face a barrage of upsetting factors in the aftermath—Republican erasure of the fact that this was a hate crime against a group of people they have worked so passionately to oppress through laws and institutional discrimination, its politicization by both the left and the right, and constant claims of how guns are somehow not a factor at all by organizations like the NRA, and more— we are reminded that for many people in this country, and around the world, we—the Queer community— are a cherished part of the fabric of society. The outright support for the Queer community we have seen from so many facets of society is inspiring.
People who fall under the LGBTQ umbrella are resilient. We have to be. The world, outside of the West in particular, is not a kind place for us to navigate. Among a notable few of my gay friends there seems to be a general feeling of exhaustion in the days since the attack. For many, it is too easy to imagine it could have been us, that it may be us in the future, that too little is happening to prevent future tragedies. But in the end, our actions and our hopes go hand in hand to create our reality. And we need both to change the world we live in.