On The Pulse Nightclub Tragedy

Obviously, everyone is talking about the tragedy that occurred at Pulse nightclub last night in Orlando and while I don’t want anyone to think that I’m just adding to the noise or using it to promote my own writing, I literally am not able to sit by idly and stay quiet. We need everyone to speak up and speak out about this. So yes, I’m going to make this personal, but we all need to make it personal. If we all continue to stand by and simply say that we have become desensitized to news of shootings, nothing will change. The terror will continue because all shootings are acts of terror. We are all in this together and we all need to work to make sure change actually happens.

I have not kept up with this blog and I was already considering writing a new entry because I made a very large life change this week: my boyfriend and I officially live together. I know there are many people who were in my life at one point that didn’t even know I have a boyfriend, so I need to be more vocal about it.

Here goes: I met an incredible man two and a half years ago. We were immediately compatible. The thought of actually dating a man scared the hell out of me, but I pushed that fear away and took a leap. We’ve grown closer as the years have gone by and I can honestly say that I have never been happier. I love him with all my soul; sometimes thinking about how much I love him makes my heart actually ache.

Everything I have gone through in the past few years—hiding this relationship from my family, finally coming out to my parents, dealing with the extra year it took for my father to really become accepting, introducing him to family and friends—are things I never thought I would have to deal with. My younger self would have never believed that I could handle it. But I have been able to do so because of his support and his love and his understanding. In certain ways, it has not been easy and it will never be as easy as for those who are straight. While many can take a girlfriend home after a couple weeks and introduce her to extended family shortly after, he didn’t meet my whole immediate family until about a year in. He had to meet my mom one-on-one with me at a restaurant because my dad could not handle it yet. Meeting my extended family took an extra year.

That is not to say that I have not felt love and support from those around me. The majority of my friends and family didn’t bat an eye when I first mentioned that I had a boyfriend, but those words never came easily out of my mouth. I simply don’t have that luxury. The words come easier now, but I fear for all those who will never be able to speak them.

As a country, we have made incredible strides towards equality for all people. As a 24-year-old, I have experienced a great deal of acceptance and love in my lifetime about my sexuality. Had I been born thirty, twenty, or even five years earlier, this would not have been the case. So when I woke up this morning, in bed with my boyfriend, and checked my phone as we all do, I was absolutely floored by the news of a mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando. The fact that this can happen terrifies me and baffles me. I simply don’t understand how hate like this still exists. I could quite literally be killed because the love I hold in my heart does not align with what somebody else believes I should be allowed to feel.

We are no different than anybody else. We take more time agreeing on something to watch on Netflix than actually watching it. He cooks dinner and I do the dishes. We go out to new restaurants to expand our culinary horizons and then get drunk at a dive bar with our friends. I let my alarm go off in the morning to the point that it wakes him, so he has to kick me out of bed. We sit in silence with one another, both browsing Reddit. We fight, we laugh, we tease one another, and we celebrate one another’s accomplishments. And today, we sat on the couch together, watching the news reports of the Orlando shooting while reading more about it on our phones.

I drove him to work and we barely spoke on the way there. Because even though we do not have as many problems as the gay people in other countries or in other time periods, this vitriol continues. It exists right here and now. I don’t know how long it will continue but for as long as we have to deal with it as a society, our hearts will ache. There are people who could be our neighbors that want nothing more than to destroy our happiness and the life we’re trying to build with one another. It’s mind-numbing.

I know we will continue to move forward with our combined life in spite of this. He is on his way home from work as I make a simple dinner so we can watch the new Game of Thrones episode. In the coming days, we will hang pictures and artwork on the walls of our home. In a few weeks, we will throw a party in the apartment. We might even move into a new home in the further future. But I will do better to be more vocal about my love. Because at the end of the day, I know that hate will never defeat love. That is something we all need to remember and act on.