In our Pride issue a few weeks back, I listed the strides we have made recently as LGBT Americans. No more Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. The battle for marriage equality waged and won. I wrote that, a few skirmishes aside having to do with bathroom laws and religious liberty, we were looking at an open vista. I wrote too soon.
Last weekend, I took a flight from New York to LA to the Pride celebrations for Metrosource. The festivities kicked off as usual, with crowded streets, jovial revelers and clubs so packed you couldn’t move. Then came Sunday morning.
I heard about the events in Orlando at the same time I was getting information about a suspected terrorist who intended to attack those in attendance down the street. While others were streaming away from the festival, I made my way to find the fairgrounds to find them a ghost town inhabited only by FBI, LAPD, sheriff’s officers and a handful of stalwart volunteers. My partner reported to his booth (he works for an LGBT marketing firm), only to find the park empty park filling him with fear about what might happen next.
After taking a few pics, we headed back to our hotel. My partner, whom I have nicknamed The Sprout, eyed the crowd nervously — especially since this was the first of numerous Pride events he’d be expected to attend around the country this season.
How, he wondered, do you protect yourself in an environment like this? People everywhere – oftentimes jammed so close to one another that anyone wishing to do us harm would find it easy. Many among us believed, naively perhaps, that the hard work of coming out, and the harder work of integrating their gay lives into their workplaces and churches and families meant that we’d finally reached a place where we could relax and let go.
This is our new challenge, I decided a few days later while attending a Brooklyn vigil for those who perished at Pulse. We cannot honor their memory by cowering in fear. And we should not walk into the crowds we love as lambs to a slaughter. What is required – what’s essential really – is vigilance.
No one likes to dance, drink, schmooze and otherwise enjoy the company of his gay brothers and sisters more than I do, but this season safety has to come first. We have more to lose than ever before, especially now that we’re out and breathing a bit more freely. And apparently that freedom — coupled with our visibility — has put us in the crosshairs for those motivated by hate.
It’s entirely appropriate to grieve right now. We have suffered the worst mass shooting in the history of our country. At this writing, several U.S. Senators are filibustering in an attempt to get gun legislation back on the Congressional agenda. But after so little changed following the shootings of innocent school children at Sandy Hook, there’s no reason to think anyone is going to come to our rescue except us.
So this Pride season, we want you to stay visible, stay alert and help protect each other. We are our best ally, and we at Metrosource will be with you every step of the way.
Last modified: July 28, 2017