I’m sad. I’m angry. I’m so unbelievably confused. But I’m not Orlando.
I am not a member of the LGBTQ community who feels glares on her back when she holds her girlfriend’s hand in the grocery store. I’m not somebody who was born in a body that feels absolutely foreign to them. Nothing about my life – my love – is in danger of being taken away. I’ve never seen a day when my dreams of a family were impossible.
I’m not Muslim. I’ve never been feared or hated because of my faith in a higher power. People don’t choose to walk down a different aisle or sit at a different table because of the clothes I wear to respect and honor my religious beliefs. I don’t fear my child will be targeted one day because he looks vaguely similar to a hate-filled stranger strewn across national news outlets.
And I’m not a responsible, respectful gun owner. A mature adult who knows the power they possess in such a small machine, and adamantly believes in the right to protect himself and his family if, God forbid, it ever comes to that. I am not somebody who has grown up learning to be meticulously responsible only to have monsters destroy the hard work I’ve put into teaching others about the serious nature of guns, the education needed for properly carrying them, and the good intention behind most gun owners.
I am none of these things. To say I am is to diminish the hatred and misunderstanding they all experience in their own ways. I am a white American woman with more than her fair share of opportunities and rights. My life is good. Even at its worst, it’s been amazing. But it’s not enough. I see my friends and family get lumped into stereotypes with such intense generalized hatred it makes me sick. I’m going to have children someday. They may be LGBTQ or choose to follow Islam or defend their right to bear arms as Americans. Whatever the case may be, I cannot be content with the world in which we live.
I’m not hear to say, “I’m one of you, let me show my support.” I’m hear to say, “I’m not one of you, let me still show my support.” It’s not about being the same. It’s about being different. It’s about being different and respecting those differences, the history behind them, and the struggles they’ve endured as we live together in this one world we have.