Stop "Praying For Orlando": Thoughts on The Orlando Massacre, Homophobia, and How Far We've Really Come

In the face of such violence and grief, I've found that my anger and frustration eventually turned into silence. As someone who writes for a living, I'm not used to feeling helpless in the face of my own thoughts and emotions. But let me be perfectly clear, silence is a completely unacceptable response to this event. So when I couldn't find the words for my feelings, I found someone who did. This is Frank and he wants you to stop "Praying For Orlando." 


By: Frank Buggey

Phelan M. Ebenhack/AP

Phelan M. Ebenhack/AP

When I woke up on June 12th and heard about the Pulse shooting, I was absolutely horrified. The most amount of homophobic violence that I was ever exposed to was constant bullying and harassment and hearing about the gay bashing that happened downtown Philadelphia, blocks away from my old job site. With that being said, finding out about a massacre that took place at a popular Queer/LGBT nightclub in Orlando, on Latin night, made me sick to my stomach. With all mass shootings, I’m always wondering “What if…” What if that was my niece in that elementary school? What if my sister was in that Planned Parenthood? What if my parents went to that movie theatre? But, like always, I reassure myself that I’m just panicking and the odds of any of that happening are slim (hopefully). But, the sort of “What if” I experienced the day and the week following the Pulse shooting was more realistic.

I started to realize that I could have been in that club that night, my friends could have been in that club, any Queer/LGBT person I know could have been in that fucking club. But it didn’t have to be Pulse. It could have been iCandy or Woody’s. It could have happened during an after party at Voyeur. While I was struggling with the weight of “It could have been me”, I started to get angry with social media’s reaction to the tragedy. From the pathetic GOP’s attempt to “pray for the victims” to mainstream media calling it an act of “radical Islamic terrorism.” Almost every single Queer/LGBT person I know called it for what it was: an attack against Queer people, rooted in homophobia. Whether the homophobia was internalized, taught to the shooter (who won’t be named) through media, his father, or some other source, it was still homophobia.

"Homophobia didn’t die when marriage equality was passed by SCOTUS. No matter what we find out about the shooter, the reasons and causes of the shooting, we will always carry this tragedy with us."

Instead of taking aim and pointing out the constant homophobic violence that we experience day to day, political figures, news sources, and our family members are choosing to use Islamophobic rhetoric to explain the cause of this tragedy. In our own tragedy, we as a community are being silenced by the same people responsible for causing this in the first place. Erasing this simple fact from all the reports of the tragedy, erasing the fact that Pulse was a Queer/LGBT nightclub, shows we still have progress as a nation to accept Queer/LGBT people. Homophobia didn’t die when marriage equality was passed by SCOTUS. No matter what we find out about the shooter, the reasons and causes of the shooting, we will always carry this tragedy with us. Whenever we enter Queer spaces, we’re gonna feel cautious and anxious. We might hang out by the exits, dance less, and avoid large groups. But, I won’t let this tragedy stop me from going to Woody’s on a Saturday night in the summer to dance my ass off. I can’t let this push me back into the metaphorical closet. So, although I’m gonna be more cautious to enter Queer spaces, I’m not gonna let this stop me from being me.


ABOUT FRANK BUGGEY 

Reader of books, lover of all dogs and cats. Super Senior floating through time and space trying to graduate. Frank wants to grow up and teach kids that being different is awesome and to always live outside the box society puts us in.


Special thanks to Frank for agreeing to do this. I know that this could not have been easy to write and share. I want to take the time to acknowledge all of the family, friends, and community members of the victims of this horrific massive. I can not imagine your loss and my thoughts are with your constantly. To everyone in the LGBTQ community, stay strong and stay proud. If you need a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on in these upcoming months of healing I'm always here.