A WELL-MEANING news anchor described the Orlando gay bar as “a place where people go to have fun.”
It’s been a while since I’ve been to a bar and I never was much into that scene, but here’s what I remember about it:
Yes. I went to bars to have fun and, yes, I went there to meet others, but more than anything else, I went to a bar because it was one of the few places where I could be myself and feel safe.
It was a sanctuary.
It was a place where I didn’t have to be constantly looking over my shoulder.
Writer Jeramey Kraatz (The Cloak Society), put it best on an Instagram post:
“If you can’t wrap your head around a bar or club as a sanctuary,” he wrote, “you’ve probably never been afraid to hold someone’s hand in public.”
Given the advances in the LGBT movement, I’m sure that many of today’s young people don’t feel that need to seek refuge in a gay bar. But too many still do because we still have ignorance, bigotry and hatred.
We still have clowns masquerading as politicians such as Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who posted on Twitter a biblical verse saying that “man reaps what he sows” shortly after the Orlando shooting. And we still have other public officials, civic leaders and members of the clergy across the country whose silence speaks loudly, and it tells us that they think Patrick’s post is OK.
What happened in Orlando means that the sense of security many felt in gay bars around the world – that refuge, that sanctuary — has been snatched away.
That is what hurts. It is not for myself that I mourn that loss, but for the young men and women of all races who – because of the Dan Patricks of the world – still need a place to go to where they can feel safe and who are no longer sure such a place exists anymore.
I THINK MOST Americans want to believe that there really is an Islamic State connection to the shooting in Orlando.
Such a connection would make it easier for us to deal with it. We would have somebody else to blame.
But my gut feeling tells me (and early reports from investigators appear to confirm that feeling) that when all the facts are in, we will learn that there was no connection at all.
We will understand that this was the work of one very sick man who happened to be Muslim and who had a thing about gay people — and who was allowed to buy an assault gun despite the fact authorities knew there was something wrong with him.
SO, YES, IT is about terrorism, but it’s the terrorism we are inflicting on ourselves by our unwillingness to deal with the gun issue, and our willingness to look the other way when gay people are marginalized or demonized.