13 June 2016
I had my first radiation treatment today. I will go every weekday for the next three weeks. When walking into the facility, my beautiful wife reached out to hold my hand – and I was nervous, in a way that I haven’t been in a long time. It reminded me of all of the times that we have gone dancing, or to play Gaybingo, here in Dallas, or out to the theater in NYC. In those moments, we are safe (or so we think). We can securely hold hands, dance together, share a kiss. Yesterday, in the early morning hours, a deranged man with assault weapons stormed an Orlando nightclub, filled with members of the LGBT community, along with their friends, allies, and club employees. Those who were at the club, Pulse, this past weekend were in a safe, secure space where they could be themselves without fear. Have you ever felt afraid to show love or affection towards the one that you love in public? Every time I think of it, I shudder, because that could have been US, pre-baby days when we went dancing more often, or went out to socialize with friends for a drink at one of our “safe havens.” It has sickened me to see tweets from not only high profile figures like Dan Patrick or Donald Trump, hours after a massacre, using phrases like “you reap what you sow” or blaming current administration. It has sickened me even more to see people I know – people who are supposedly my friends that care about me – posting similar “reap what you sow” statements. It’s too much, and I almost just. can’t. even.
When is it ENOUGH for YOU?
What the hell is wrong with people? This massacre of human life did not happen as a result of our current political administration – how ridiculous is it that anyone would even utter those sentiments?! It isn’t the parents’ fault. It isn’t because “God has been taken out of schools” – I NEVER prayed in school growing up. It is unbridled, unmitigated and uncontrolled HATRED. It was not carried out by someone in our country illegally – this was a US citizen, born in New York. It was not carried out by someone who conducted a back-alley gun purchase with no criminal background check – this was a military grade assault weapon that was purchased legally through a FLAWED system. If background checks came back clear (and federal background checks were obviously NOT done, or done correctly), then something is seriously wrong, considering the murderer had a history of domestic violence and had been investigated by the FBI not once, but at least twice; yet he still was able to not only purchase the murder weapon, but also hold a job in security. I don’t really care anymore if I piss someone off with my distaste for guns – enough is ENOUGH. Something MUST be done, and NOW! I see all of the screaming that Obama and Hillary are trying to take away guns, and second amendment bullshit – but have yet to see any evidence of such attempts to take away weapons OR rights. Just because someone states that there needs to be gun reform, that doesn’t equate to “taking away my guns!” Just today, I read an article of a mom in Philadelphia who had the ability to purchase one of these heinous weapons of mortal combat in SEVEN MINUTES. Yes, you read that correctly. SEVEN minutes. No waiting period – HA! That is laughable! I want to know how in the hell that is possible! I want to know how a 20 year old kid with an expired driver’s license was able to also go and buy one of these weapons in FIVE MINUTES?! THIS. THIS is part of the huge overlying problem. A very, very flawed system for background checks that is the biggest joke that any of us have ever seen! So yes, as Samantha Bee has said on her show this week, we DO want to take away your guns, if they are military grade assault rifles! So come on people, how can you see children get gunned down at school, or a nightclub full of people be systematically murdered by the spray of bullets from an assault weapon that only belongs in a military combat situation?! When is it going to be ENOUGH for everyone?
Twenty children and six adults at Sandy Hook obviously wasn’t enough. Forty-nine more people are dead today, and more than that are injured, some may not recover, but all are never to be the same – is this not enough? Do these lives not matter as much because many of them were LGBT? People screaming back and forth at each other angrily about their stance on guns, or radicals, or LGBT citizens does nothing but create more noise, overtaking the sound of the tears and sorrow for those who were lost. Is today the day that you, or I, have to be right? We may not ever agree on who is right, but I hope we can agree that it is most definitely ENOUGH! Those of us who feel this pain for our brothers & sisters who perished, who feel the outrage at the loss of life being overshadowed by arguments about politics or gun control; we still see you, the silent ones who normally pray for every tragedy or post your condolences when the unthinkable happens. We see you and notice the absolute absence of commentary from you on THIS particular tragedy – what is THAT about?
When is it ENOUGH for you?
Hatred for that which is different from ourselves can take on an ugly life of its own. It seems that somewhere along the path in the life of these terrorists, this kind of hatred became perfectly acceptable. Most of us, civilized human beings, are mortified by the atrocities of the Holocaust during WWII, asking over and over why more people didn’t step in and stop the systematic murders of millions. We are appalled when we hear of those who stood by and let it happen, not willing to step out of their fear and stand up to the obvious wrong that was happening before their very eyes. But that was something in our history books, right? Yet here we are again, only the murders aren’t by the millions, in another country out of sight. It’s 26 here, 50 there, a high school or a movie theater in Colorado. When WE see hate directed towards another, and we say nothing, then WE are saying that we are okay with it. When WE see hate physically manifested towards another, and we take no action, then WE are saying that we are okay with it. When WE hear a teen call another faggot, or tell them that they’re “gay” when they really mean “dumb or stupid,” and WE don’t call them out on it, then the message we give is that we don’t have a problem with that kind of hate speech. When is it ENOUGH for YOU? Will it be enough when it’s YOUR child, YOUR brother or sister, YOUR childhood best friend who was dancing in a nightclub, but then is on your television screen as just one among the bodies? Will you be arguing about your guns then? Will you be pointing fingers at politicians then? Or will you be face to the ground, arms around a stranger who mourns next to you, because THEIR person silently lays among the carnage next to YOUR person? When is it ENOUGH for YOU?
Today I laid on a table in a cold room, alone, with a mask locked tight around my face, while a huge machine clicked and buzzed while circling my head, giving me the radiation that we hope will keep me alive. I had to remain completely still. I fought the urge to scream, to freak out in claustrophobic madness. I fought the tears as panic tried to take over. I gritted my teeth in anger, knowing that if I don’t do this, my chances of winning – of living – become markedly lower.
Today, fifty people will also lie on a table in a cold room, alone – no mask on their face needed. They will remain completely still, too; no fighting panic like they surely experienced during the moments before they died. I cannot imagine the terror that went through their hearts and minds during those final moments. They no longer have the urge to scream, or cry, or panic; their lives were cut short by a terrorist who hated them, just for BEING. Is this too harsh for you to read? When is it ENOUGH for YOU?? Most of the victims were young, with a full and productive life ahead of them. Some were coupled, some were not. Some were out, others were not. Some were there with friends, others were there with a supportive parent. But rather than give this terrorist a minute of time learning his background – hell, even learning his name – I choose to remember as many of the names of those who perished that I possibly can. I will try to remember their stories, as I hear them.
Like Amanda Alvear. She was 25 and was at the club Pulse with her best friend, celebrating having lost 200 pounds. And Brenda McCool, age 49. She was a two-time cancer survivor. She raised twelve children, and was at Pulse dancing with one of her sons, who survived the shooting, but had to watch his mother die. Stanley Almodovar III was 23 and a pharmacy tech. Cory Connell, age 21, was leaving the club with his girlfriend when they came upon the shooter. He was a college student who hoped to become a firefighter.
They were all people just like you and I. Instead of everyone standing around with raised fists in the air, angry and indignant about who or what to blame, why don’t we learn what we can about the only people who really matter in all of this. Click on their name; if there is an available profile, the link will take you to it:
- Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34
- Stanley Almodovar III, 23
- Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20
- Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22
- Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36
- Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22
- Luis S. Vielma, 22
- K.J. Morris, 37
- Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30
- Anthony Luis Laureano Disla, 25
- Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35
- Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, 50
- Amanda Alvear, 25
- Martin Benitez Torres, 33
- Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37
- Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26
- Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35
- Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25
- Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, 31
- Oscar A Aracena-Montero, 26
- Enrique L. Rios Jr., 25
- Miguel Angel Honorato, 30
- Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40
- Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32
- Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19
- Cory James Connell, 21
- Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37
- Luis Daniel Conde, 39
- Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33
- Juan Chevez-Martinez, 25
- Darryl Roman Burt II, 29
- Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32
- Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21
- Jerald Arthur Wright, 31
- Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25
- Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25
- Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, 24
- Jean C. Nives Rodriguez, 27
- Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33
- Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, 49
- Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan, 24
- Christopher “Drew” Leinonen, 32
- Angel L. Candelario-Padro, 28
- Frank Hernandez Escalante, 27
- Paul Terrell Henry, 41
- Akyra Monet Murray, 18
- Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz, 24
- Antonio Davon Brown, 29
- Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez, 25
When is it ENOUGH for YOU?