As I’m sure you’ve heard by now, there was a shooting last night at Pulse, an LGBT nightclub in Orlando Florida. It caught so many of us by surprise, and I’m honestly still trying to process it even now. Little did I think as I laid down to bed last night after attending Pensacola’s own local LGBT pride festival on one of those rare occasions that everything felt right with the world, that I’d wake up this morning to the news that only 8 hours away, over 50 people had died and 50 more had been injured in what has now taken it’s place as the largest mass shooting, and the largest LGBT hate crime in U.S. History.
The world has always been a frightening place for us. Many in our communities have been fighting this battle against hatred since Stonewall, and it still wasn’t so long ago that in many countries you could be imprisoned, or lobotomized, or even executed for your gender identity or your orientation. In some places that’s still going on, and when something like this happens, especially for those who’ve lived through those times and events, I’m sure it brings everything rushing back. For those of us who are very young, the world has probably never felt quite as frightening as it does today.
Myself... I feel so alone, small and frightened.
And every five minutes, I just want to break down and cry -- and several times, I have. I first heard the news by way of concerns from my followers on various social media platforms who know I’m from Florida, but weren’t sure of which part, who were reaching out to make sure that I was safe and alive, most of whom have been feeling the exact same same way I have, and I just want everyone who’s here to read this to know that I’m just so glad you’re alive, and that what you’re feeling is valid.
I want you know that it’s okay to feel heart broken and afraid, and it is most certainly okay to cry.
What happened last night was heart breaking. And terrifying, and so I want you know that it’s okay to feel heart broken and afraid, and it is most certainly okay to cry.
I’ve gotten messages a lot over the course of my activism work telling me how brave people think I am, but moments like this especially, it’s really hard to feel brave. It’s so easy to just want to collapse in on yourself and disappear, but now more than ever is the time for all of us to be brave, and stand together in love and support for the lives that we’ve lost and for all of us who are left behind to deal with that loss and pain and fear, and I want you to know that you can still do that even when you are afraid.
I say this because after facing homelessness and losing my family and friends, and nearly everything I once had coming out, and spending the last year and a half working nearly round the clock as an activist, I’ve learned that being brave doesn’t mean not being afraid. Often, being brave really just means putting on a bold face, and doing everything you can to push forward, and just keep going, and doing what’s right, and living your truth, even though on the inside, you’e really scared to death.
I know that’s what it’s meant for me, and what it continues to mean for me every day.
It can no longer be denied that we live in revolutionary times. Unfortunately, revolutionary times are often very violent. We lost so many beautiful souls in Orlando, and I’m sure we will lose more here at home and all over the world before it’s all said and done. Hate crimes against the LGBT, especially against trans women haven’t been showing any signs of stopping. This attack came in the wake of a Target bathroom bombing which was its own act of transphobic terrorism, and as frightening as it is and as much as we may not want to think about it, when we’re faced with this kind of tragedy we’re forced to come to terms with the fact that one day, it might be us.
That’s not an easy thing to do. Most days I try to shrug it off like it’s nothing, but most of the time, I’m terrified. I cry about it, I have nightmares, and I just want all of you to know that that’s okay, and it’s okay to take some time to just process everything and feel. There’s going to be a lot of calls for activism in the coming weeks and months. Honestly we need it, but I want you to remember that your safety is never a currency to be exchanged for progress, and that you and your self-care always come first.
I want you to remember that your safety is never a currency to be exchanged for progress.
It’s very difficult to process, and I only wish I could be there to offer you a shoulder to cry on. I know I need one too, but a lot of you have reached out, and I know a lot of you will continue reaching out, and I just want you to know that seeing your concern and your words comforts me in knowing that I’m not really alone, and neither are you.
And I want to take a moment to extend my personal sympathies to our friends and families in the muslim communities, who we all know will face renewed hatred and suspicion and violence, and who will be falsely painted as villains in light of this attack. My heart goes out especially to our LGBT muslim siblings who will continue to face hatred and violence for their orientation or gender on top of it.
And I want everyone to remember that this was not rooted in anyone’s religion, but in a hatred for people who are different, and we will overcome it by standing together in unity, love and peace, because love always wins.
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