Still Separate After Orlando Massacre | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Still Separate After Orlando Massacre


Katherine Day Photo courtesy Roy A. Adkins

My boyfriend left the apartment at 11:45 p.m. to arrive at Pulse, the night club, by 12:15 a.m. I woke up Sunday morning to him not in bed next to me. I figured he spent the night at a friend's house, as was typical on nights where they'd had a little too much fun. I fixed myself a cup of coffee and sat in front of my laptop to catch up on the news.

"Massacre at Pulse Orlando, 50 Killed, Terrorist, ISIS, Safety, Emergency." My heart fell to my stomach. Where was he? Was he alive? Was he safe?

This is not my story, but it could have been someone's narrative in the wake of the recent shooting that took place in Orlando. I may be remiss in not having any real emotions tied to this story, but after Columbine, 9/11 and Ferguson, I have found myself asking, "How did this happen?" I'm not even talking about national security.

How did the assailant get in the building with an automatic assault rifle without being detected? Every bar in a big city that I have ever attended had bags and IDs checked, even if it's just to make sure a patron brought no drugs or outside beverages in with them. I'm not saying it didn't happen. I'm just asking how, in 2016, in June, LGBT Pride month, in Orlando, at a popular night club, this could happen?

Many people are angry, hurt, bereaved, but for what? Are there not enough of us that are sick and tired of unfavorable gun legislation being passed on our behalf? No. There are many, many people who feel similarly about guns and their negative impact on our society. The angrier we get, the more guns become available, interestingly enough.

I also find it interesting that because this crime was centered so specifically on one group of American citizens, some people have chosen to take sides. It is often when a catastrophic event takes place on American soil that we look for someone or something to blame. I've read articles since the incident that quote religious fanatics saying the slaughter of the 50 individuals at Pulse was the handiwork of God. I've also read posts and other articles condemning religion for some of its participants taking such a stand, and its ostracizing of the LGBT community. I have been on both sides of that war, and ultimately, no one wins.

Your brother, or sister, our friends and family could have been there, and some were. Where is our compassion, when because it happened at an LGBT nightclub and not a Presbyterian church, we choose whether to help or not? The idea is that although I am me and you are you, we share in each other's pain and glory as a people. However, money dictates otherwise. Status dictates otherwise. The color of a person's skin still dictates otherwise. What school a person went to dictates otherwise. What some like to do in their spare time dictates otherwise.

Forgive me, but I still do not see where we are equal. I do, however, feel incredibly separate from you and even the event in Orlando. Fear is real, but by no means will it define or rob from me the joys of this life or the next. The goal is to recognize the fear and walk through it. Someone once told me that "fear is merely an exercise of the imagination." Although real, it does not have the ability to manifest unless we help it.

Some handle loss very differently than others. There have been comments about how now is the time for action, not prayers. Faith, my friends, without works is indeed dead. The goal is to make America a safer and more habitable place for all its citizens to live mentally, spiritually and physically. It's going to take a lot or work, or maybe not much at all, but we must start somewhere. They say people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. Last time I checked, we were all under the same roof.

Katherine E. Day, an author, filmmaker and designer, is a Mississippi native. She loves traveling, adventures and gardening.

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