I have been out and visible since I was 18. I came out through the fire of a fanatical Christian cult (still hard to admit). I have been an out lesbian, dyke, butch, in all its glorious splendor for almost 30 years. I have fought first for gay rights, then lesbian and gay rights, then LGBT rights, and, most recently, queer rights. I have participated in civil rights rallies for Latinos and African Americans. I have protested attempts to restrict a woman’s right to choose. I have fought for change in the legal and corporate world. On the one hand, I am a liberal feminist, bordering on fanatical, adamant for equal rights for all. Since I’ve never been arrested protesting, I don’t think I get to be “radical.”
On the other hand, I am a daughter, a wife, a mother, a neighbor, a friend, and an employee. And the thought that someone might harm my mother and father, wife, kids, neighbors, friends, or coworkers makes me want to burn that person’s village to the ground. I want to climb to the top of something very high and pick off those who would harm me or mine with methodical precision. And doing so would most likely require one of these “military grade” “semi-automatic” weapons. Who am I kidding? I would want a weapon that rivals anything Dead Pool or Batman might have access to.
That is how I feel right now. I want to find a way to identify everyone that wants to harm my many-layered community and unceremoniously remove them from existence. Punish them for their hatred by taking out anyone “they” love and then them. The anger is blinding. I want to burn it all down.
But here is the thing. I will never burn it all down. I will never climb to the top of anything high and pick off anyone. Unless of course, social media counts as a high point and my words can be considered the weapon.
The irony, the absolutely ridiculous and beautiful irony of America is that “they” have the right to hate me. “They” have the right to try and change the laws to make my life uncomfortable. “They” have the right to shout at the top of their lungs in a public square, “I hate you, Butch. I despise you and your equality, your gayness, your lack of conformity!” Yes, “they” get to say whatever the hell “they” want. And to think whatever “they” want. And so do I.
Maybe the paradox of our free-speech, free-religion society is that the more rights we have individually, the more important it is that we not have guns. Or rather, if you will, that “they” not have guns. Fair enough. Now, if we could just figure out who “they” are.
Imagine this (tortured) example…I am standing in a public square eloquently shouting my beliefs of equality and fairness to an LGBT crowd. On the other side of the square, “they” stand shouting that a woman’s place is in the home, homosexuality is a sin, and extolling the virtues of white pride. Everyone in the square has a gun – of any type. How does this rally end?
When Mateen walked into Pulse, he used weapons of mass destruction on a micro scale. He did not use freedom of religion. He was not exercising his constitutional right to hate. He brought down a permanent and unappealable sentence on hundreds of people based on his hatred. He should not be able to do that. It should be very, very hard to do that. Or impossible even.
Since he (and all of us) has the right to hate, we must remove the awful temptation to turn that hate into violent action. Without a gun, he’s just a homophobic asshole. With one, he is a homicidal maniac. No one should be allowed to burn it all down.
We suck at this. America needs to get better. Right now. The rest of the world already thinks we are idiots. We have such resolve, such strength. Why can’t we work together to change this landscape once and for all?
It’s Butch to fight the urge to burn it all down. Be Butch.