“So when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, ‘The good outnumber you, and we always will.’” (Patton Oswalt)
One of the traits I appreciate the most about the queer people and allies I know is our ability to bring people together; we create chosen families and kinship networks to support one another even if our families our communities are less supportive. Losing the beautiful people at the Pulse club feels like losing part of that family.
I also grieve for the loss of a safe place for queer people to be themselves unapologetically. I grew up in a conservative church that condemned homosexuality. When I left, I cut ties with many of the people in my support networks. My parents, although they eventually were quite supportive, were horrified to learn the truth. To survive emotionally, I took refuge with other queer people online and in clubs like this one. For some people in the community, a bar or nightclub is the only safe space they have.
As we learn more about the events at Pulse, it becomes clearer that this violence more directly affected queer and LGBT people of color, who already face additional challenges surviving in a country crippled by racism. My heart breaks for them and their families, as well as for the Muslim LGBTQ people and allies who will face additional scrutiny in the following months. I would like to ask other White people, in light of our privilege, to think deeply about how we can support people of color in these communities by providing both material resources as we are able and by doing our own work to embrace and promote anti-racism.
Although I feel afraid, disheartened, and lost in this moment, I also feel deeply held and witnessed by the other IRDL scholars in this community. Even though we have met each other so recently, I take solace in knowing that we have come together as a family of choice, and I am so grateful for all of the gentle hearts and fierce spirits here that are fighting against ignorance and hatred.
Lorelei Rutledge is a Faculty Services Librarian and the online reference coordinator for the J. Willard Marriott Library at the University of Utah.
This blog post is part of a series of IRDL Scholar responses to the shooting in Orlando, FL, on 6/12/2016.