Monday, June 13, 2016

In the Pursuit of Happiness

I can't climb out of the heaviness of this weekend's mass shooting in Orlando. The LGBTQ community was specifically targeted and bulls-eyed for being who they are, for living as we all have been told we have the right to live: in the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness. Or is this America's lip service?

Pursuit of individual happiness. Instead, when this community gathered to celebrate Pride, they were killed over this very act. But it isn't just one man's hatred, pay attention, because I know that I myself have heard, seen, read, and been where this is a hatred for the gay community. 

Why is my life different from the life of the killer's? I read of his stated revulsion toward the LGBTQ community. I can tell you for certain that there is no one reason that separates us, but I do remember moments in my life that I am sure he would never experienced. I remember being four years old and walking with my Spanish grandmother in a hospital's hallway as we went to visit a family friend. In front of us walked a man, loose-hipped and swaying down the corridor. I watched, too young and unaware to attach any significance to his movements, but when this man passed a group of two older boys, they hissed at him when he went past and lisped "Hello there," giggling as they shouted to him.
My grandmother tugged my hand and pulled me ahead, she moved to catch up to the boys, "No! That is enough! He leaves you be, you leave him be! Enough!" Her shouts were in Spanish but her anger was unmistakable, and the boys turned and hid back in the patient's room, where they were visiting.
That lesson stayed with me. Children watch, children learn. Children remember. 


With the horrific deaths from this weekend, it is surreal that I am here, on this day, packing a lunch for summer camp and listening to my oldest get ready for work, all with the murmuring of my husband on a conference call. This is our pursuit of what makes us happy. And no one shoots us
My family is left to be who we are, no one seeks to harm us our spot us out. Other than a comment years ago, when someone questioned my husband, “You seem like a nice guy, why would you marry a Mexican?" we are able to move and do without worry of someone finding us to make us disappear.

I'm walking in my sundress and flip flops, ready to run errands, only one day later after reading headlines that made me shake my head and swallow away a lump in my throat. The news of 50 people killed for being LGBTQ and 53 injured, red-circled because of a murderer's rage against this community.

I cannot speak for the loss on a personal level, and it's not mine to crown myself knowing what it feels like to be part of something that people attempt to smother out of existence. But I feel the pain in my friends' posts and I know that I have many people in my life whom I love deeply who have been cut to their hearts with this mass shooting.

I have read every heartbreaking post that has been shared, and I have shared so that the voices that need to be heard, I can help with that in a small way. I know that while my world goes on, for the ones who lost the unimaginable this weekend, it doesn't. My eyes this morning opened to a day ahead filled with caring for the ones I love, while someone else's eyes stared into darkness, hearts frozen with the realization that their nightmare has no escape: today brings reality.

I don't know what to do, other than to stop everyone I know and grab their arm to listen to me. Teach your children to love! It sounds minimalistic, but we have to. Not that I think this will be a cure-all or the one thing to fix everything, but along the way, if we ourselves remember to do the same, we can maybe make things safer for everyone. If you hear someone belittle, mock, whisper or speak in any manner that ridicules or reduces – or hear and see the ugly, spitting hate – to our LGBTQ family, stop them. Teach your children to say something, help them by giving them the words to stand for what you stand for.

Teach your children. From the earliest days of their lives, be clear about what is not allowed when speaking about other human beings. And I don't mean with the use of 'comfortable' words of “tolerance” and “co-exist.” We tolerate those who are annoying, and we co-exist with a bossy co-worker, but we don't tolerate people we love and share lives with.

Toss out the words like 'tolerance' and gather everyone in who is already pushed to the sides and made to fight for being who they are. We are free to pursue life, liberty, and happiness, aren't we? But this weekend shows that's not true for everyone. So we can work to help in our own small way, make it possible with our own acts, because nowhere is it written “only if people are like you.”

Your children see what you do and to whom you do it to. Don't think they don't watch, and absolutely don't think that they don't listen. They learn at home. Don't let them leave until you're sure they'll do this world right. 
I love you all. I love my friends who are LGBTQ, and are my family. My heart breaks with how this must feel for you and how this strikes at who you are.

I love you, and I hear and see you.
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