Forty-nine—more than my family added to the number of close friends who make my life lovely.  After the Charleston shooting, I read about all the victims and had moments of silence for each.  Could I do that this time?  What would it matter anyway, when so many hearts were torn open, so many daughters, sons, and best friends lost from this world forever?  And why was this happening again? How many people have to die before enough Americans take gun control seriously?  These and other thoughts ran through my head, but I kept coming back to this one: We have to step it up—step up our intolerance for violence, and especially our expressions of love for the LGBTQ community.  I say “we” including all people of goodwill, no matter which of the following subcategories you belong (or don’t belong) to.

  1. If your religious views lead you to believe it is a sin to be gay: So what? You probably believe a slew of other commonplace things are wrong too, like premarital sex, or, if you’re really out there, vaccines.  But when the attack in Paris happened, you didn’t dismiss it and say,  “A lot of those people were probably sleeping with their boyfriends.  Some of them might have even administered a Polio shot. ”  You filtered your profile pictures with the French flag and hashtag prayed for Paris.  This is not to say you need to post on social media every time something tragic makes the news.  I certainly don’t.  I am just saddened to see a pattern: how silent (many, not all) my evangelical friends have been the past two days.  You believe you were created because of love by a God who tasked you with sharing that love.  So share uninhibitedly.  True, you may not get a warm or trusting response from the gay community, because it is hard to feel love through disapproval.  But for that reason, share harder.  Love harder.
  2. If you don’t have a problem with someone being gay, but don’t like to make a big deal about things either: Too bad. Being gay shouldn’t be a big deal, but at this point in history it is.  When I was a college student a few years ago, a professor said to me, “The university acts as though a drag show on campus would be such a disgrace.  The administration implies that people wouldn’t mind us [gay people] if we could just be quiet about it.  Meanwhile, its Straight Pride Day every day.”  More than any one statement, this changed me from a silent supporter of the LGBTQ community to an outspoken one.  It hit me so heavily: every day is a celebration of straight love.  Think about the topic of most songs on the radio, most of the romance on television and in mainstream films.  Think about the enthusiastic and unmixed response you got from everybody—even virtual strangers on social media—when you announced that you were officially dating, or engaged to, or newly married to or having an anniversary dinner with your opposite-sex partner.  I thought of my professor’s comment when I saw a Twitter post by Jeremey Kraatz that said, “If you can’t wrap your head around a bar or club as a sanctuary, you’ve probably never been afraid to hold someone’s hand in public.”  True allies cannot be silent, low-key supporters of the LGBTQ community because in the absence of the privileges that we take for granted (such as celebrating our love safely and with public applause), they often face hostility, isolation, and even terror.  We need your voice—in MLK’s words, your “soul force”—to help fight the violence that took away or forever changed so many lives in Orlando.
  3. If you are a loud supporter who marches in Pride festivals and heatedly responds to prejudice, etc.: What next? This is the section I dreaded writing, because I knew I had little to say.  Years ago, when I quit believing it was a sin to be gay, the way forward was clear.  A year or so after that, when I knew I had to be more passionate and outspoken in my support, the way forward was clear.  And now it is not.  Though I have several close friends who are gay and I have touched base with them since the shooting, I haven’t asked them, “What else can I do to stand strong with you and your community?” I am not sure who I am most trying to spare discomfort: them or myself.  Maybe I should ask them.

 Probably, I should donate to nonprofits like this one dedicated to helping LGBTQ youth and to fundraisers like this one, to raise funds for the Orlando victims. One thing is certain: I haven’t done enough.  We haven’t done enough.

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