On Sanctuary, Security and Solidarity

Photograph from Governor Tom Wolfe Flickr Account (Creative Commons)

There are many articles out there about #Pulse. There is a lot of media coverage, stories, and statistics. Some of us are in anguish because we are LGBTQ and we grieve for our people, we rage for our people, we fear for ourselves and our people. The beautiful LGBTQ faces of Color that we see in pictures of the slain look like us, or they look like LGBTQ people of Color we love.

Some of us are in anguish because we love LGBTQ people and LGBTQ people of Color deeply and we want to be there for them in this moment. Most of us are also deeply concerned and mourning because we see the media using this tragedy to attack our Muslim family around the country and world.

We know that there are deep spiritual issues at play for LGBTQ people in this moment. Live wires of cultural pain and history. A few of them that we see:

For so many LGBTQ people, gay bars are not just places to get a beer. They are our community space, where we usually feel safe to be ourselves. They welcome us, and there are all different kinds of them which have been harbor to so many parts of our community. We don't have to have a college degree to go to them, a lot of money, a date, or friends to go with--we can go as we are. They have been homes for our community in resistance and in celebration. This massacre violated our place of home and safety.

For many of us the gruesome specifics of this massacre reflect the exact nightmares that our families had for us when we 'came out', or the fears we have for ourselves, our kids, our loved ones. Some of us who are not out, stay closeted out of this kind of fear.

For many of us who have worked for many years on LGBTQ issues, there is a sense of futility right now. We know our LGBTQ ancestors and elders worked hard to protect and defend us, often at great cost. Most of our work on LGBTQ issues has been to do the same. Some of us are feeling shame, that perhaps we have failed our beloved community in some way, because there is so much backlash against us and now we have to face this tragedy.

Most LGBTQ people report that being with other LGBTQ people is 'somewhat to very' important to our mental health. One easy place to go find each other has always been our bars. Many of us are afraid to go to those places right now and therefore are not sure how to approach.

We feel sorrow because of our longing to not lose our precious community members this way. We long to be able to love each other and ourselves without fear; for a different country than we live in. We long to not have to turn on the TV and hear transphobes and homophobes speak in such a vile manner about our beloveds. We long to not be scapegoated through hateful policy, and to not be hounded and hunted in private places like bathrooms, and safe places like our bars. 

There are no easy answers for how to spiritually address these issues. 

But, we decided to share a few gems we found, that for us were working as a 'tiny comfort pack'. It is incomplete like our ability to support each other spiritually is incomplete. But it is a start.

You will find a few pieces here that speak to the spirit of what we have lost. Pieces that speak to the spirit of what we are trying to remember. Pieces by LGBTQ people to help the straight people who love us how to support us. Pieces by LGBTQ Latinx family to help us understand the specific loss and cost to that community. 

We hope they offer you some solace, insight, and reflection: as they have us. We hope that they will inspire you to share similar things with each other. We are heartened because we also see inside of our spiritual communities that LGBTQ communities and our straight allies are having loving and honest conversations about what living with homophobia every day really means. What it means to be honest and vulnerable about that, and create intimacy in that trust. We hope to continue to support those important conversations in spiritual communities around the country. 

pulse by Alexis Pauline Gumbs

The Alchemy of Storytelling by Mark Gonzales & Aerosol Ali

Caitlin Breedlove, Campaign Director, Standing on the Side of Love