Dear America, Stop Killing Us

WORDS BY ANN LEMONNIER / @COOLJEWISHBOI

You can't kill a rainbow.

Banner by John Bell (Twitter: @_johnbell) 
As I write this, I think about the lives of the victims and the fifty (and more) people injured inside of Pulse Nightclub — a gay bar — on June 12. I think of the families, friends, and other loved ones who are going through unimaginable situations of grief, and my heart breaks for them. I think of how average that night must've seemed before Mateen. I bleed for the people who walked into Pulse on Saturday night and were carried out hours later. My heart bleeds for America and what we are representing. It breaks for the casualty of the event, for the almost easiness of walking into a gay bar and taking lives along the way.
   I will not make this article about the shooter, for he does not deserve publicity or fame. Instead, I want to focus on the beautiful lives lost in Orlando — the dancers and accountants and singers. The sons, daughters, mothers, boyfriends, husbands, wives, fathers, and friends gone due to their sexuality and trying to find community. With this mourning, I emphasize America's need to change. I highlight the injustice the LGBTQ+ community faces day-to-day and the constant fear that comes with it. With all this, I want to unveil the inequality that never ended with same sex marriage legalized.
   I came out two years ago as pansexual and the first thing my mother told me after the shock and encouraging words period ended was her fear for me. She explained to me at fourteen years of age that there are some places in the world I won't be able to go to; she voiced her fear of my ever being harmed for who I am. My mother is one of the most accepting people I know, and through this all, she has tried her best to protect me and prevent any harm. And that’s quite easy, living in the Northeast, in a rather liberal town, but as I look at colleges, my family and I have all been mindful of where I will be safe and that is just reality. I think of the fear that not only I, but my parents have, when I look for community in places like youth groups and pride festivals. This situation has opened my eyes to the dangers that my loved ones and I face when participating in simple acts like holding our partners' hands or going to LGBTQ+ events.

The events of Pulse nightclub is the wakeup call my community has been shouting for years. It is the buzzer telling America that we are far from equality and safety for our people. The biggest mass shooting in the Land of the Free is a hate-crime against the LGBT+ community, and my heart has been bleeding since I heard the news on Sunday morning. Just because same-sex couples can get married does not mean that they can't be fired from their jobs, denied service, evicted from their homes, and shot in a bar due to their sexuality. We need change. We need change in our gun laws along with acceptance and safety. Along with this, it’s prime-time for allies. To those not a part of the community: use your privilege to lift the voices of queer people. Remember, you are here to stand behind us — not in front, blocking out our voices. Spread awareness, but do not feel free to add your own two cents.
   I am done with being quiet and accepting that sometimes my safety will be compromised. I will no longer put my life and the lives of the people I love at risk when trying to find community. I mourn the lives lost on Saturday night and Sunday morning. My heart is bleeding for America, but I am not dried out. We can’t keep letting events like this happen; we need action now. We need to accept not everything can be fixed with marriage equality and the ugly truth of the lack of laws protecting LGBT+ people. In this short period of time, I have become more and more aware of the times I have put my life at risk, and am forever grateful to have been treated with such acceptance throughout my life. Stay safe, but do not stay quiet.

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