by Gloria Partida
I began to write a typical piece about the tragedy in Orlando and the grotesque statements made by the Baptist preacher in Sacramento. Denouncing hate, calling to action a stand against intolerance but I was struck by where DO you start when talking about horror? There is no edge to grab gingerly and cleanly peel away to examine the contents. There is no mound to dig through with shape and mass that can be shoveled into manageable piles. There is only a hideous shapeless presence that slides underfoot and grabs at our ankles with slithery viscous dread. We can discuss the intersections of gun control, mental health, Islamophobia and homophobia; intellectually, politically, spiritually. Still we walk away with mist in our mouths because the fact is we will never eradicate the ism’s of the world. They are virus’ that sense their demise, shift shapes and infect our communities silently and all too often fatally.
In the arena of intolerance, the LGBTQ community has the added challenge of defending its protected group status because many still consider gender/sexual non conformity a choice. So while the world slowly accepts difference in race, religion and culture, all comes to a screeching halt, ironically, at love and in the case of the trans community the basic freedom to be. It’s too much to accept that our universe, as immense as it is, can be non-binary in humanities basic essence. The dogma is deep, immovable and irrational. To believe that queerness will rend the fabric of society irreparable when war, torture, genocide, and child abuse have not. To believe that queerness is so evil that it must be extinguished, or all things are lost, is to believe that is has not existed throughout our history on earth and so is the only reason we exist.
So we trudge the arc of justice forward and steel ourselves against the inevitable obstacles and still sometimes along that journey evil rises so monstrous we must pause jaw agape, hair on end, courage fleeing. Asking how can hate grow so huge and still be contained in a single individual? The truth is it can not. The hate in Orlando was held in all of us and channeled through Omar Mateen. The hate in Orlando was so big it needed an empty space to flow through; someone without compassion, hope, love, understanding. The question we should ask is how do we allow our neighbors, children, coworkers, family to become so disenfranchised that they empty their being of humanity.
It is understandable that mental health is a huge reason for most of the tragic killings in our world and in truth there is not a good answer to this problem. We can, however, prevent the cornerstone of mental delusion from being hate. We can demand that our leaders lead with compassion and understanding. That they demonstrate willingness to solve problems without scapegoating. That they help us rise to our better selves by building safe inclusive spaces with their words and actions. We can seek out places in our communities to mentor youth, volunteer for social justice, or donate to organizations that promote mental health services. We can fill our beings with compassion, hope, love and understanding.
Gloria Partida is co-chair of the Davis Phoenix Coalition