Between June 13th and June 17th thousands upon thousands of LGBTQ folks plus straight folks came together to mourn the loss of the 50 killed at Pulse nightclub in Orlando and the 52 wounded. At our vigil in central New Jersey, more than 300 people showed up.
Where are these people now?
Last Sunday morning was the three week memorial of this tragic shooting and the deaths of these 50 innocents. Yet what do we listen to in the news? Talks of Brexit, Trump, Clinton’s email server and lead poisoning in Newark school systems. We hear about how the Metro in Washington DC has lapsed in its maintenance. We hear about how the pentagon has decided to allow trans soldiers to serve their country as themselves.
We hear about some of the recently released 911 calls and texts from the victims at Pulse.
But where are we? What are we doing?
In 2011 when Tyler Clementi killed himself, I wrote a show about stopping bullying in the LGBTQ Community. I toured this show to hundreds of youth around the South. It was a validating experience and it seemed to be helpful to some. Then in 2014, I decided to write a show about stopping LGBTQ suicide because there wasn’t enough of a movement to end it and I was sick of hearing about how “It Gets Better” when I knew (and know) that it often gets worse before it gets better. I toured that show nationally to hundreds of youth around the country. And that was validating, too. But still I wonder…
Where is everyone?
Should I write a show about how the LGBTQ Community only comes together around tragedy or to get some flimsy, meaningless legislation like Marriage Equality passed? That we can’t seem to agree on ANYTHING else as being important? Shall I? That I don’t understand how we can allow 640,000 homeless LGBTQ youth to wander aimlessly, unprotected and at risk around the streets of our cities? Isn’t THAT a cause worth marching for? Worth raising money for? Worth making some noise for?
Now it is 2016 and I am not writing a show about the LGBTQ Community and how it has let me down - nevermind letting me down - how it has let ITSELF down. I am joining forces with other social justice activists in our community to BUILD our community from the inside out. This is not the work I am called to do. I am an artist first, a mother second, an activist third. But I still believe that if we’re going to survive as a community, we have to build our community. And it won’t be through solo shows that I write, unfortunately. At least, I can’t see how that could be the case at this point. It has to be through grassroots community building. Apealling to the better angels of our psyches and convincing people to come together even when there is no immiment tragedy.
The Stonewall Riots happened 47 years ago. For me, that’s enough of a reason to build our community now. I don’t need a Matthew Shepard, a Tyler Clementi, a Sakia Gunn, an Amos Beede or a fucking Orlando shooting to bring me out of the comforts of my very, very comfortable home to commune with those in my community.
I have been out for almost 16 years. I have been an active member of this LGBTQ Community for almost 15 years. I do not know everything. I am not pushing an agenda of my own. I just want every single one of us who has ever benefited from being part of this amazing, dynamic, bitchy, wonderful, judgmental, loving LGBTQ Community to admit it and GIVE BACK.
On July 29th, the LGBTQ Social Justice Group at the Pride Center of NJ is having a community building event called RISE UP AS ONE…after Orlando… to bring us together so that we can build on the communing and connection we had right after the shooting. Don’t let this opportunity go by. Take advantage of the fact that there are those who are very, very invested in our community working together and thriving.
Leave your comfortable homes on July 29th at 7:00 pm and join us.
You won’t regret it.