I am SO excited to go home to the States. I am also a bit nervous for various small reasons. One little thing is I've gotten pretty used to living in a country without guns. A dear friend of mine just posted this on Facebook. So sad she went through this and so thankful here in Fiji my kids won't experience this here. See below.
I normally stay out of these discussions because I'm not sure that sharing information on facebook ever really changes opinions or initiates a healthy and productive dialog. These discussions just tend to just be polarizing hence putting any chance of compromise more out of reach. But this issue is very close to my heart and has such grave consequences. This video has some very sound logic. It will also -- hopefully -- make you laugh a bit...maybe not my more conservative friends :-). Gun violence is becoming so commonplace and it terrifies me. In October 2015, I was taking a walk in my beautiful Decatur neighborhood with a dear friend of mine and our toddlers. We really enjoyed walking to our favorite coffee shop and chatting along the way. We walked right by a home being burglarized by young men. When they saw us they dropped the TVs, pointed their gun at us, fired and sped away. I thank GOD we were not hurt. I was pregnant with Harvey at the time and didn't know it. It was so heartbreaking having to explain what that loud noise was to my little boy. I told him it was the sound of the TV dropping to the ground and the police put those men in timeout for taking what isn't theres. Making it more difficult to get a gun does not mean you can't own a gun. It means that if you choose to own a powerful weapon, you must display a minimal level of competence and responsibility. Right to bear arms...So many people wants rights without responsibility. Yes, if someone is really hellbent on getting a gun, they will probably find a gun. If some simple regulations reduce loss of life, devastation and trauma, isn't it worth it? If you are a law abiding citizen, then what do you have to worry about? Almost a year later, Leland (he's only 3.5) still talks about "that loud noise when the man dropped the TV" and it breaks my heart ever times. I want my children to grow up in a world that we are working to make better and safer. I think they deserve that as do you and your family.
Also read this on Facebook today and teared up again about it all.
Earlier today, a friend remarked: "I don't understand. The way you are reacting, it's almost like you knew someone in the club."
Here's the thing you need to understand about every LGBT person in your family, your work, and your circle of friends:
We've spent most of our lives being aware that we are at risk.
When you hear interviewers talking to LGBT folks and they say "It could have been here. It could have been me," they aren't exaggerating. I don't care how long you've been out, how far down your road to self acceptance and love you've traveled, we are always aware that we are at some level of risk.
I'm about as "don't give a shit what ANYONE thinks" as anyone you'll ever meet... and when I reach to hold Matt's hand in the car? I still do the mental calculation of "ok, that car is just slightly behind us so they can't see, but that truck to my left can see right inside the car". If I kiss Matt in public, like he leaned in for on the bike trail the other day, I'm never fully in the moment. I'm always parsing who is around us and paying attention to us. There's a tension that comes with that... a literal tensing of the muscles as you brace for potential danger. For a lot of us, it's become such an automatic reaction that we don't even think about it directly any more. We just do it.
And then... over the last few years, it started to fade a little. It started to feel like maybe things were getting better. A string of Supreme Court decisions. Public opinion shifting to the side of LGBT rights. Life was getting better. You could breathe a little bit.
What happened with this event is pretty dramatically demonstrated by how Matt and I are reacting to it. Matt came out fairly late, during the golden glow of the changing tide. He's never dealt with something like this. It's literally turned him inside out emotionally because all that stuff he read about that was just "then" became very much "NOW". For me, I've had some time to adjust to the idea that people hate us enough to kill us. Matthew Shephard was my first real lesson in that. So this weekend was a sudden slap in the face, a reminder that I should never have let my guard down, should never have gotten complacent... because it could have been US.
Every LGBT person you know knows what I'm talking about. Those tiny little mental calculations we do over the course of our life add up... and we just got hit with a stark reminder that those simmering concerns, those fears... they probably won't ever go away. We'll never be free of them. Additionally, now we just got a lesson that expressing our love could result in the deaths of *others* completely unrelated to us. It's easy to take risks when it's just you and you've made that choice. Now there's this subtext that you could set off someone who kills other people who weren't even involved. And that's just a lot.
That's why I'm personally a bit off balance even though (or because, depending on how you look at it) I live in Texas and was not personally effected by this tragedy. Don't get me wrong: nothing will change. I will still hold my husband's hand in public. I will still kiss him in public. We'll still go out and attend functions and hold our heads high.
But we will be doing those mental calculations for the rest of our lives. Those little PDAs you take for granted with your spouse. They come with huge baggage for us. Every single one is an act of defiance, with all that entails.
So do me a favor. Reach out to that LGBT person in your life. Friend, co-worker, or family. Just let them know you are thinking of them and you love them. That will mean the world to them right now. I promise you.