No Words

There are no words for the tragedy that occurred this weekend in Orlando. Only pain, only sadness, only grief.

I struggled to figure out what to write when drafting this post. I struggled with the concept of writing at all. I've just felt at a complete loss of words. 50 people dead. More injured. Many more whose lives are forever altered by the horrible hate crime on Sunday. 

But I remembered the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who said that, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” And so I decided, I will not be silent. I will find my voice, even if it's hard.

It seems that there are so many terrible things happening in the world today that I can't read the news without breaking down into tears. I've been infuriated and saddened by news about the Stanford rape survivor and the callousness exhibited by Brock Turner and his family. I've mourned the loss of the young singer Christina Grimmie, who's music inspired and lifted many. I weep and grieve for those killed and injured in Orlando on Sunday and pray for the families and friends of the victims. 

I'd like to state that I certainly don't mean to diminish any or all of these events by addressing them simultaneously. More so, I write about these things because these people and events have been on my mind constantly the last few days. I rarely go a moment without contemplating the tragedies that our country, and world, have recently witnessed. I've felt defeated and powerless beyond comprehension at the state of our nation. 

And I've been angered - beyond civility, I may add - by the insensitivity and prejudice that some have exhibited in light of recent events towards the victims and the LGBTQA and Muslim communities. It horrifies me that violence of all types is still perpetuated on the level that it is today. The intolerance towards the LGBTQA community, despite the progress we've made, shocks me. The ban against gay men donating blood for the Orlando victims shocks me. Separately but still importantly, the reality that 1 in 5 women will experience rape in their lifetime. And lastly, our gun laws shock me. The fact that Congress bans the CDC from researching gun violence shocks me. Researching it - not coming with policies to restrict the 2nd Amendment! It's shocking and senseless. 

But what's to be done? What can I do? These are questions I've asked myself these past few days. I know that I can stay educated on these issues and use my voice during elections. But what about now? I feel impelled to do something. 

I can't begin to understand what the families of the Orlando victims are going through. I can't pretend to understand what the LGBTQA community is experiencing. Being straight I have never faced what they have faced. But what I can do is pledge to be a friend and ally, show solidarity, and do what I can to support the victims and families. I come from San Francisco, a place rich in LGBTQA pride and history. I will take that pride with me wherever I go and use it to stand against intolerance.

Along that same vein, I can't imagine what the Stanford rape survivor endured, and is still enduring. I can't fathom the trauma she - and so many other women - have faced and the obstacles they've had to overcome in making their voices heard.  But what I can do is promise that I will believe, listen to, and support women who speak up. I will promise to be a part of ending rape culture on college campuses and violence against women. 

And I also must acknowledge that there have been some bright spots in these dark times. Again, this is not to detract or take away from the horrible losses of Sunday. Personally, I find that being reminded of the good in humanity helps me cope with tragedy. Hundreds of people lined up to donate blood to help victims of the Orlando shooting. Lin Manuel Miranda's beautiful sonnet at the Tony's last night reminded us that love is what will always prevail. The anonymous Stanford rape survivor has exhibited courage and strength in publishing her letter and in standing for "every woman" in her anonymity. I remember the acts of good will performed by the two graduate students, Carl-Fredrik Arndt and Peter Jonsson, who rescued her. I'd encourage you all to read these articles - they're truly powerful. It's times like these where I feel that I have to really search for the silver lining. And honestly, sometimes I'm not even sure if there is one. Alas, I will keep trying. 

Our world is a tumultuous place right now, so please, remember to keep your loved ones close. Cherish your time on Earth. And always, spread love. 


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