Authors note: The Pulse nightclub massacre here in Orlando on June 12th, affected many people. Personally, I’m still processing it 2 months later. I’ve had several situations that have shaken me to my core in this life but this – this was unlike anything I’ve experienced. My phone started blowing up around 3:00 a.m. that horrible morning and the sick feeling in my stomach hasn’t completely subsided to this day. It took me several days to write about it. The following is what came out of me when my fingertips finally touched the keyboard. I’ve shared it at various events around town and have had offers to publish it in several publications. But I’m still feeling raw and protective, and not ready to let it leave home just yet. I’m a believer in that something good will always come from something bad. It’s hard to see that when 49 lives have ended and 50 more are forever changed. I think the best way to honor those people is to be the most kind and loving people we can be. And to always remember that love is the answer. Love is love is love is love….
“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” ~Ernest Hemingway
On Sunday, June 12th, words abandoned me. The murder of 49 people and injuries of 53 more, at the Pulse nightclub here in my hometown of Orlando, rendered me mute. Forming a sentence was beyond my grasp. As a writer, that’s not good. As a person who uses words to heal herself, that frightened me. What do you grab onto when your life ring is out of reach? Is it even possible to feel emotions you can’t name? So here I sit at my keyboard, for the first time in 3 days. I haven’t gone that long without writing since I was 10 years old. I hope the words will come, but for now, I’ll just bleed….
I am the mother of a gay man. Sometimes upon learning that, people have said to me “I didn’t know you had a gay son.” Part of me, (the smartass part) wants to say, “I didn’t know you needed to know.” Another part of me, (the sarcastic part) wants to say “Would you like to know the last time I pooped too?” I usually end up saying something less inflammatory like “I also have 2 heterosexual sons in case you’re keeping score.” Ok, so it’s not really less inflammatory, but, you get the gist. My sons’, nor anyone’s sexuality, has anything to do, with you. It isn’t even the most interesting thing about my son. He is a yoga instructor who can contort his body in amazing feats of strength and agility. He’s a talented artist who uses his eye for beauty to style some of the world’s top fashion brands. He’s an amazing writer who makes me want to work harder at my own craft. He’s super intelligent and deeply emotional, and his heart would not fit in this room.
And he’s a great dancer. He loves to dance. I’ve had the pleasure of dancing with him, and many of his friends and mine, at gay clubs all over Central Florida and beyond, including many fun nights at Pulse. In fact, I have never had a more enjoyable time out dancing than I’ve had at gay clubs with these dear to my heart friends. The atmosphere is electric, engaging, uninhibited. You feel completely accepted for who you are. There are no judgment’s (except maybe about your outfit – “girl, what are you wearing?”), there are no dirty looks for kissing your date, and you don’t even get teased about bringing your mom along. It’s a safe space where you are free – to be.
When my son first told me he was gay I only had one concern. His safety. Not the concern for safety that as a parent I feel for all of my sons, because that’s just part of loving someone. I reiterated the same thing I told him when he started to drive… “It’s not you I worry about, it’s all the nutjobs ‑ out there.” I knew he would be a target for any idiot who thought they had the right to decide, who – loves whom. He has been harassed and called names and chased down streets and been exposed to the scums of the earth. And every time, it breaks my heart, and brings out the mama tiger in me.
Many nights I have gone to sleep believing he was in a “safe” place, hanging with his friends, happily dancing the night away. Just like the moms whose children were enjoying themselves on June 12th at Pulse. Like Susan McCool, who was out dancing with her son and blocked him with her body to save his life. I would have done that. Or Christine Leinonen who said that if she had known her son Christopher was still laying on the club floor hours later, she would have gone in and carried him out on her own back. I never want to do that. And Mina Justice, who last heard her son Eddie’s final goodbye via text message where he calls her ‘mommy,’ just like my son calls me. I can’t even let myself imagine having to look at those messages for the rest of my life.
There has been much said. Many words of anger. I am angry too. Words of sadness. I am sad too. But also, I am thankful. Thankful that my son has a pulse, and that soon, I will dance with him again. And for that gratitude, I have no words…
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