I am you and you are me. We, the people of this country and this planet, share something people hundreds of years before and hundreds of years hence can’t possibly have in common with us: now.
What defines “now”? Labels. We are tremendously caught up in them. Who are the good guys and who are the bad guys? And then, something happens, something unimaginable in Florida, and it’s clear at least one person directed his hatred toward one particular group.
This was an attack on the gay community. Other labels will undoubtedly stick and motives will undoubtedly be uncovered, but it was an attack on gay America. Sure, it was terrorism, because it was terrible and it was shockingly violent, but it was, first and foremost, an attack on a community.
There’s a moving scene at the end of the Kevin Kline film, “In & Out,” at a high school graduation in which everyone stands up and says they are gay in support of Kline, who is on the verge of losing his job because of his sexual orientation.
As we watched a moving Tony Awards ceremony, I hoped someone would step to the microphone and say, “I’m gay and anyone else who is gay today, please stand with me.” I’m sure the entire audience would have stood up.
For today, tomorrow and for the foreseeable future, we are all gay. We are all lesbian, bisexuals and transgender. We are like the Danish people who, legend has it, put yellow stars on their clothing to make it impossible to distinguish Jewish Danes from fellow Danes during World War II. There is some debate about whether Christian X, the king of Denmark, put the Jewish star on his clothing. What is clear, however, is that the Danes did what they could in a horrible time to save their citizens from discrimination and death by helping them escape to Sweden.
In the here and now, with so much blood, so many tears and such incomprehensible loss, there is something we can do for our fellow Americans: We can be gay. I’m not suggesting we all need same-sex partners, merely, that the label that seems so toxic to some applies to all of us.
We live with such random acts of terror and violence. Far too often, the president of the United States has become the Mourner in Chief. Maybe, instead, he should be gay, too.
Let’s not wait for a reluctant and divided Congress to act and to take action on guns, or on hate, or on love. Let’s embrace and understand each other.
There will be plenty of people pointing fingers. The FBI was watching this killer through different points in his life. Did they miss anything? I’m sure there’ll be plenty of people who will suggest that if the clubgoers had had guns, this killer wouldn’t have been as effective because someone would have been able to take him out before he did all that damage. Is that really what we want, a bunch of people in a club with guns? Would that really make us safer? It’s a bit like the mutually assured destruction argument during the Cold War. Maybe it was so irrational to consider destroying the world that no one pushed the button, but we still have all those weapons and there is still plenty of hate and fear. We and the former Soviet Union spent billions on weapons when those resources might have cured cancer, improved food crops or developed cheaper, cleaner energy.
So, how do we stop the hate? We stand up, we unite, we share — and we recognize that I am you and you are me.