In the twenty-eight years I’ve been alive, I’ve seen some disturbing things. Yes, everyone can truly say that, but today for me, it really hit close to home.
I know I was not the only one watching the news on days like 9/11 or the Boston Marathon. But in this day and age, do we really think or wonder what our fellow humans think or feel during these times?
As usual, the Internet is cluttered with “Stand With Orlando” or “love for Pulse” and there’s a slew of images and memes, There are outsiders that mutter “it's just herd mentality.” Allow me to put those lines to rest. Right now, droves of people are waiting in the hot Florida sun on a Sunday to donate much needed blood in response to a sudden demand. As reactive as the citizens of “The City Beautiful” have been, why was it necessary?
It is popularly believed we now live in an age of easy outrage and entitlement. As if we are no longer worried about personal perception or empathy, with our own feelings mattering over those of the masses. No longer having the ability to put yourself in someone's shoes because, “how could that happen to me?”
I mean after all, I didn't go to a rock show in Paris, I’m safe in my neighborhood nightclub…..
So when you wake up to the headlines, “50 dead, 53 injured in nightclub shooting”, it really makes you think.
June is Pride month almost internationally, and all over America most bars have events and parties. Very few places rival Orlando and it’s LOADED calendar of events that just came to a close last weekend as they have for the past several decades. Every fetishized part of our culture has an event, party or more, in one of our several nightclubs, our attraction parks and in general, flooding the city with light, life and fun. Both family friendly and naughty alike.
But once again, the shadow of tragedy is cast along the tail end of our parade. Tragedy seems to rear its ugly head on the LGBT community all too often. To the world, it becomes a sad mass shooting. As a gay man, I can’t help but be reminded of this attack toppling the disgust of the New Orleans Upstairs Lounge being burned down in 1973, resulting in the death of thirty-two. That was an act of homophobia and bigotry: a hate crime. Yes “terrorism” but in a Nation currently in an ouroboros of social/religious conflict and political rivalry, this social climate certainly breeds it’s fair share of tragic targets . And it seems the aggressors race, nationality or implied religion are more villainized than their deeds.
While information is still being processed, 50 of our community members will not be seeing the rest of Pride this month.
I’ve been to Pulse Orlando, many times. Like most I’ve hit the Orlando circuit both with friends gay and straight alike, or the rare solo night out. Ever since the age of seventeen, friends and I spent our three day weekends taking the backroads to Orlando from the East coast. So many memories: the lights, the sounds, laughs and tears. Like most, the dance floor at a gay bar has seen it all. But what do we do with a massacre on the dance floor in the face of Pride?
For those not aware:
Early this morning, June 12th, a man entered the club Pulse Orlando around closing and started shooting. Heavily armed with an assault rifle, a handgun and reportedly a device strapped to him, this obviously well planned hostage situation lasted from around 2am till 5am. In that time,50 people were murdered, 53 in total taken to local hospitals while the gunman was killed by police. At this time, there is no known motive or knowledge that he was acting as part of anything large, although the events been deemed “Domestic Terrorism”. So was it random terror and chaos or was it a larger more specific target for hate?
We’re still struggling to piece together the why’s and what’s. Police are holding their press conferences as Facebook is being consumed by friends and family in outrage and mourning.
The sad truth about tragedies and events like this is that indeed, they can happen anywhere. But now what? What can we do now?
A lot of people are in a state of “I can’t believe it”, and rightly so, but myself am a why guy. Why would this man do this? What could cause someone to go into a club and kill at random fifty people?
Was this man unwell and couldn’t afford medical or mental health treatment?
Was this man a Trump following extremist?
An American ISIS conscript proving himself to the world? Was that call a legitimate pledge, or convenient justification to relieve personal guilt?
Or maybe even sadder, was he a man that was not accepted into the flock of Gay Orlando and like Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold of Columbine, was this the retaliation of an unwell man firing back at a community he never felt he belonged to and was in fact excluded?
Pride to is more than a word, or an event. For Florida, it’s an industry, it’s a lifestyle mirroring a modern Mardi Gras. Pride in Orlando generates millions into the Florida economy and if you know your way around, can be very fun, in making friends, lovers and memories that last the rest of your life. It can also be very intimidating, scary and unwelcoming if you’re not a “white adonis” with little to no body hair, who doesn’t know their way around. The perfection you see can cause years of damage and harm to someone’s ego and psyche.
“But there’s a Bear Bash is over there, and the Blacks have that club, and the Lesbians have that club and there is a party for everyone!” Correction, there is a fetish fest for everyone. Being fetishised, like having a BBC or a hairy bear belly, or being middle eastern and uncut isn’t respect, it’s sexual objectification. And having all these events at different bars and clubs isn't a pillar of a unified community; it’s segregation. To be in-demand for a sexual role isn’t the same as being the man you spend the whole night with, let alone who you imagine coming home to. Years of actions have their consequences, be they small or large, intentional or not.
The gay community is comprised of a bit of everyone else's communities ya know since there are more than just one, so it’s no surprise that there are a lot of conflicting voices on how an event should look or run, and who it’s main demographic are. Just the other day I saw a friend post a “Why the gay community needs a Black Pride celebration” and I sighed. If it were up to me, I’d vote for a Futurama inspired “Parade Day” holiday where it’s one day and everyone gets a float, drink and be happy that we’re all unique people who all live together....
To me, I don’t understand, because not everyone needs their own party. Not everyone needs their own event, they just have them because the main event excluded them. Maybe instead of separating ourselves from each other in tribes/cliques/troops or whatever, we should be gathering our community and remembering what's important and what Pride really means. I believe it’s the right to be who we are and love who we want to. Not the newest flavor of Absolut vodka or that awesome “hottie”by the Bud Lite display. I feel it’s the right to be who I am in public and be accepted by my community, and that I don’t have to hide or be considered a mental disorder, or illegal.
I’ve never been quiet about my distaste when it comes to inequality within the Gay Community based on our superficial rating system of “hot or not”, and I find myself really struggling to think, “what would drive a man to do this?”
I don’t believe it was his religion. As a Satanist my religion is persecuted all the time, and I wouldn’t do anything like this, nor would any of my Muslim friends, or I’d imagine my much more populated list of Christian friends and so on.
So his name sounds “Middle Eastern”, to most Americans: so does Mahatma Ghandi.
Extremist’s come from all walks of life, just like heroes, because there are more than just “good” and “bad” people. We the LGBT community cannot allow this to be turned into a media circus calling for the blood of Islam. Not long ago, it was our blood they called for. Sexuality isn’t who we are, just as religion isn’t who they are.
These are all circumstances of a much bigger problem. And it’s important we don’t let our shock and outrage become blind fear and compliance.
To a shooter, we all look the same. To scary religious zealots, we all look the same. To the political/corporate superstructure, we all look the same.
In the face of tragedy don’t JUST change your social media profile picture “in respect” for.
No, make a real reason to change.
So this Pride, let us honor not what makes us different, but what makes us the same.
The same hearts that want love, the same hands that just want to be held and the same blood that courses through our veins. The same blood that now in Central Florida is needed, and sadly still as sexually active gay men, we can’t donate to our needy community. But our allies and City have stepped up
It doesn’t matter what our religion, skin color, weight, sex or even our society tells us. We are a community whether we like it or not. And now, in the face of this tragedy, is a time to remember these brave and traumatized souls, who to a mad gunman were just targets, not people. And remember, who at the time, were safe in their neighborhood bar.
This Pride, please, let’s all take a bigger step towards unity. Make a new friend that is outside your comfort zone. Be all that you can and help when it’s needed. Pride events all over the country and world always need volunteers, they always need help. Be the change you want to see and it can make all the difference, even to at least one person. But we shouldn’t do this because of this or any tragedy, but rather do this because it’s the right thing to do. To be a decent, caring human being is he right thing to do, now and always. Computer or phone screens be dammed, nothing beats a real face to face human connection.
Because the sad truth is, you will never know what your actions can may cause people to do. Be it feel more confident because you treated them well, or they become bitter and lost because no one would treat them with civility and kindness. When it all boils down, we’re still just the most highly evolved animals in charge of this breathing rock hurtling through space.
This Pride remember, Pride is about unity, love and understanding. Not about abs and drinking. Celebrate our lives and friendships and welcome every new face you meet, as your actions leave effects. Doesn’t mean you have to keep them forever, but a warm welcome and a conversation, followed by a “You might really hit it off with ___” is much better than a cold shouldered glance over your phone screen.
As a Floridian whose closest major city is Orlando, this day weighs heavy on my heart. Reading the pages of news reports brought me to tears a few times. Most of us have all been there: drunk and happy at the end of another Saturday night at the bar. But just one man can change everything. It’s the greatest fear of most in a big city, and even more today now. But we cannot let fear win or stop us.
For locals, a lot of support is being raised already for these victims and their families and anyone in general affected. I urge anyone who has the means to please give and help. For our straight allies and friends, help drive your straight friends to donate blood. If you can’t do that, then please, help your own community then.
This could happen in any club in America. What will make or break this situation is how the community responds. How would yours? How will mine? How will ours?
The truth about safety is: it’s only there because you have faith in your immediate surroundings/ company or community, no matter who you are, or where you are that can be shattered.
And what about his new feeling, you know, that anxiety you have now about going out to a bar ? That dull ache, fear something Earth shatteringly terrible will happen. Well in war torn areas, that’s how a lot of people live everyday. To them that’s a normal day when faced with the idea of going out.
Judgement, fear and hostility shouldn’t be a priority for any community, but rather acceptance, education and compassion should be the right of everyone.
We all cope in our own ways, and some people cope by doing horrific things. And now we grieve over this horrific incident and again I have to ask myself. Am I safe in my local bar?
Now I’m not asking or encouraging a public out in the open vigil or meeting, in fact everyone is agreeing that ‘s a bad idea right now. But I honestly don’t think this is a time not to live on in thoughts of fear.
If you can’t stand being alone, please go someplace and talk about this. If it’s a local gay bar, try to talk and communicate. Turn the music down and just share for a moment what those poor people lost just for having a good time. Embrace new faces, welcome them. Put down your phones. Talk and share, the middle of Community is always U.
If you’re a reader from Orlando, and you find yourself having no one to turn to, please call one of the hotlines in the link above. Be smart and perceptive, and some bars are staying open just to be there to support you. Please grieve responsibly and invite that person sitting alone for a drink.
And in the wise words of a personal idol,
“A reminder to anyone horrified by the #PulseNightclub atrocity:
#VOTINGMATTERS. A #Congress dominated by halfwits & whores will do nothing.”
Each of us has a heart and mind that are capable of anything. And we as a community now have a responsibility to show that we will stand with each other, while we may look different we are all linked by a heartbeat, a Pulse.
May the Gods watch over you and yours with the warmest regards,
It's a happy day for America as the Supreme Court of the United States has ruled 5 to 4 that Marriage Equality is now legal across the nation, superseding all State constitutions and striking down all bans. Millions of people all over this nation are celebrating today, and I'm sure parties and clubs will be going on well into the early morning and soon Clerks offices all over the country will be flooded with couples ready to commit to one another.
But after all this struggle and success, is this the final push to change the stigma of the gay community and its ideas of relationships and courting rituals? Specifically gay men.
From a young age, girls are indoctrinated to start planning their "special day". Flowers, dresses, food, why most girls have it planned before graduation, even if they don't have the man. But with men it's not much is expected besides what kinda stripper they want for the Bachelor party.
I came out in 2003 graduated in 2005, Massachusetts legalized marriage in their state in 2004 and for the first time I started to actually think about my wedding. Nothing fancy, but like what songs would I play, where would it be and such. I still don't have very many specifics planned but I do know the multi day bender of a Reception will be a celebration that will rival the days of Bacchus/Dionysus Worship of old.
Two of my very close friends have been married for some time now. One married his Navy husband in DC for the Federal status and then had a private ceremony in Chicago. The other a courthouse wedding here in Florida soon after forced legalization. Both of which were more advanced in their years than me, all parties of which had already played the musical chairs sex game of gay youth and after growing tired of that game settled down with their now-husbands.
But I believe growing up in a nation that at the time just flatly denied the right of homosexuals has damaged us in our capacity as gay men to understand and appreciate real human emotional connections, instead we favor quick and instant sexual gratification. This has been going on for decades and of course will not stop now with this ruling, but now will the next generation follow suit?
Running this site in between my now chosen profession of writing and my day job, I'm finally finding a balance between my fiction writing and my articles. With that I'm constantly on the look out for things to write about and review. Recently while rummaging around on the Google Play store I came across Chasabl, with their adorable slogan of, "Be your sexy self. Be Chasable". Now the arguments of the title "Chaser" aside I decided why not and installed the app. Chasabl also has a webpage that you can access with your account and so I started to fill my information out with a keyboard as opposed to my thumbs, and was soon stumped and kinda depressed over two of their questions.
"The funniest thing that’s ever happened on a date"
"The sexiest thing that’s ever happened on a date"
I'm 28, I live an hour from Orlando, an hour from Daytona Beach and I just came to the crushing realization that I've never been on a date.
Not a true blue, asked out by a guy to dinner, or held hands at the movies, romantic comedy style, happy go lucky, lock eyes instant chemistry date. Nothing.
Obviously I have no issues with getting myself out there, I’ve had my fair share of rejections from these sites from guys who I felt I could have had a connection with, but as a member of one of the gay fringe body type groups, I was typically just ignored and never even got a response. I've had an OKcupid profile for years and I've been on MANY gay "dating" websites but like most only used them for sexual adventures.
My mind was filled with shadows of doubt that even if I found a guy, I wouldn't be able to share or abuse the "sanctity" of marriage like my straight brethren. Growing up with this as a “norm” really has effected how I perceive relationships. And it's not just me; sure I know there are those who don't, but having sex on the first date is totally acceptable and even expected by most guys. Hell, it's not even a date, it's a hook up. That's what most "dates" are guised under when it comes to the majority of gay men, it's what has been happening but will it continue happening?
Now that little Steve growing up KNOWS that he has the same right to marry Adam in any state, is that going to make him and the next generation of homosexuals more virtuous? I can certainly hope so.
Please don't read this under the ideal that I'm not ecstatic for the amazing change that has happened to our nation today, I am. I'm thrilled for those happy millions out there who can now join one another and show the world and more importantly the next generation that marriage is obtainable and accessible to everyone in love, not just a man and a woman.
But now that our nation is changing it's views, it's time for us as a community to change our views as well. No we don't have to become celibate and pious. But now is a time to truly start respecting ourselves, our bodies and our futures with the open options that the next guy we find could in fact easily be our husband, no special license , no running across state lines, just love.
Of course I also don't want to imply that EVERYONE out there is destined to get married and live happily ever after. While I've never been on a real “date”, I've had relationships. Healthy and unhealthy, and while I do enjoy my single life a lot, there are times when it gets to me. But I have to admire being single because it has taught me a very valuable lesson. That love starts in your own heart.
That the most important form of love to learn is the love of yourself, the love of your body, your mind and your spirit to allow yourself to become able to be the yin to an unknown yang. To be able to actually go out on dates, to plan a future, to plan the perfect wedding. I wonder what this issue of August Bride is gonna look like now?
But thanks for listening to me, I'm looking forward to getting back to work here. I'm writing up a storm with fiction. I have three series’ cooking, all with LGBT relationships ,set in fun, different genre's and even a graphic novel in the works. So let’s look to the future of BloggerBear and mankind as today is a day that America will never forget!
Congrats America, and congrats to those couples lucky enough to love themselves, and to love each other!