The Pulse Shooting and the Meaning of 'Home'

This piece originally appeared at The Tampa Bay Times.

Sunday afternoon, as the shocking details of the shooting at gay nightclub Pulse in Orlando trickled in and the totality of the horror was becoming clear, I had a strange realization: I've been to that bar.

As a gay man, I want to let straight folks know a little secret: For many of us, when traveling, the first thing we do after setting down our bags in the hotel room is open up Yelp and find the nearest gay bar. Sure, grabbing a beer at the hotel bar might be easier. But whatever strange town you're in, a gay bar is an extension of home.

By "home," I don't mean where you're from; I mean someplace where you are welcome, where you can relax, where you are instantly understood without saying a word.

We need places like that, because in so many ways, some more obvious than others, the world reminds LGBT people that we don't belong and are not welcome. Powerful people say treating us with dignity would infringe on their religious freedom, or label us all pedophiles and rapists.

Even the most secure and confident queer person has to be subconsciously aware that he or she shares a world with people who hold these beliefs — and may act on them. This means being constantly aware of how people perceive us — Was that too lispy? Can I mention my wife? Will they ask for my ID? Can we kiss here? Even hug? Will he fire me if he finds out?

That's why places like Pulse exist — so, if just for a little while, we can let our guard down, maybe dance, maybe flirt (maybe more than that), and be someplace where the endless roar of voices telling us "you don't belong" can't reach us. For some, these may be the only places they can call "home." So after a work event in Orlando a few years back, with a couple hours to kill before bed, I stopped into a local gay bar called Pulse for a drink.

Florida has a long history as epicenter for historic LGBT rights battles. In 1977, former Miami-Dade Commissioner Ruth Shack introduced an ordinance banning discrimination against gays and lesbians. The ordinance created a firestorm, and the repeal effort, spearheaded by orange juice queen Anita Bryant, launched the nationwide anti-gay political movement that saw electoral power flow to those who exploited anti-LGBT fears.

The terms of four decades of "culture wars" were set, with politicians — some of whom probably truly believed, but many just after votes — using the power of the government to make LGBT people's lives just a little more miserable than everyone else's.

But that's only half the history. Bryant's crusade also galvanized a nascent gay rights movement into a powerful and savvy nationwide political force. Gay bars, once discreet places to hide from the rest of the world, became centers for community organizing. We fought back, and bit by bit, began winning victories for LGBT people.

We've come a long way since the '70s. When I started at the ACLU six years ago, we finally defeated the last vestige of Bryant's crusade: Florida's discriminatory ban on adoptions by gay men and lesbians. Last year, we won marriage equality in Florida, then nationwide at the U.S. Supreme Court. It finally feels like we're winning.

Perhaps that's why the atrocity last weekend feels so horrifying: It's a reminder of how fragile our progress is — how far we still have to go.

The fact that I've been to Pulse is really just trivia. Most LGBT people in America haven't. But whether or not you'd been there, it doesn't change the fact that someone came into our home early Sunday morning and murdered 49 of our brothers and sisters.

Even now, as LGBT Americans and our allies are still in shock, many politicians are shamefully either ignoring the fact that this was an attack on LGBT people or trying to erase us from the narrative. Perhaps this comes from a desire fold the attack into a more politically convenient narrative fed by anti-Muslim fear and hate — an effort that seems all the more misguided as a complex and contradictory portrait of the killer comes into focus. Or perhaps they can't reconcile the reality with their own work against LGBT people.

Florida's LGBT history includes anti-gay placards demanding "Save Our Children," a cruel law that pointlessly denied children loving adoptive homes, one of the first "bathroom bills" in the country, an attorney general who appealed every court ruling against the ban on marriage equality, and now the largest mass shooting in American history.

But that's only half the history. The other half is our resistance. We write that story in our own words.

We will never stop fighting back.

Add a comment (9)
Read the Terms of Use

Anonymous

Non-Christians & atheists can also be against homosexuality, so this Orlando mass murder not result of privileged White Christian men. Talking with others & posting on US & People Magazine, posters have been offended by me saying that I wouldn't be surprised if 1 or more of the victims were possibly drug dealers & or gay pedophiles While it's irrelevant to fact mass murder is wrong, it's relevant to idea of worshiping the victims, as just because some1 is a murder victim doesn't change ugly facts of who they were before they were killed.

Anonymous

Adele Laurie Blue Adkins in a June 2016 concert used F word among other things when talking about Orlando shooting among songs Mass murder is wrong, but we should not worship the victims. Though this will offend, it wouldn’t surprise me if 1 or more of the murder victims were drug dealers & or gay pedophiles. Murder is wrong but that doesn’t mean worship murder victim. We should only say murder is wrong.

Anonymous

People are offended by me saying that possibly 1 or more of the Orlando victims were pedophiles & or drug dealers. In gay/lesbian pubs-drugs like Meth, Extasy are sold as drug junkyism high among them. With pedophilia, many gays were molested as children which ruined their sexuality & some even turn out to be pedophiles. I wouldn’t be surprised if it turns out 1 or more of the Orlando victims were pedophiles & or drug dealers. Mass murder is wrong but that doesn’t mean worship the victims. Gay/lesbian groups worship gay pedophile Harvey B. Milk. Now I support free speech right for homosexuals to martyr or worship Harvey B. Milk & I support their free speech right to have rainbow flag.

But gay/lesbian groups have pushed Harvey B. Milk day on others such as Harvey.B. Milk day in schools where school kids worship a gay pedophile & that is wrong. Gay/lesbian groups also try to censor others who tell ugly truths on who Harvey B. Milk & other gay pedophiles were. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the Orlando victims thought it’s OK to push H.B. Milk day in schools & I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the Orlando victims were apologists for gay/lesbian pedophilia. While most gays & lesbians are not pedophiles, gays & lesbians are more likely to support pedophilia when it’s gay/lesbian as gay groups or their friends such as Shepard Foundation’s JC Marsden, Judy L. Shepard, Big Island Chronicle Tiffany Camille Edwards Hunt, etc. support gay pedophile Methew Wayne Shepard. It’s no surprise that Shepard Foundation’s JC Marsden & Judy L. Shepard also supports gay pedophile H.B. Milk incl. pushing Harvey B. Milk day on schoolkids. No, not all gays & lesbians support pedophilia but honestly, gays & lesbians are more likely to tolerate pedophilia when it’s gay/lesbian.

Anonymous

Its really quite simple a muslim a radical muslim who hates gays cause his beliefs killed them, in the Middle east they kill them by throwing them from buildings etc. There's no political narrative needed, the shooter made it clear, not the politicians, the threat is real, stop living in a fantasy world!

Anonymous

Posters on US & People Magazine have been offended by me saying that it wouldn't surprise me if 1 or more of the Orlando victims were pedophiles & or drug dealers. They're offended because I think they know it's possible but hate that I raise this because people were murdered & wounded in this shooting. I don't omit ugly facts because something bad as getting murdered happened. Though posters know this, here's why it wouldn't be surprising if it turns out if 1 or more of the victims were gay pedophiles & or drug dealers. The life of gays & lesbians (though not always) often have bad childhood such as fact that many gays & lesbians were victims of gay/lesbian pedophiles as kids.

1. People who are victims of same sex pedophilia are more likely to turn out gay/lesbian in adulthood, copying the sexual behavior they learned. In worse cases, victims of gay/lesbian pedophiles turn out to be gay/lesbian pedophiles in adulthood. This is esp. true for gay men & wouldn't surprise me if it turns out 1 or more of the gay men killed in Orlando had been as a boy molested by gay pedophiles such as gay Catholic priests which caused them to repeat sexual conduct they learned from their abuse & possibly even turn out to be gay pedophiles.

2. People who are victims of gay/lesbian pedophiles along with being more likely to turn out gay/lesbian are also more likely to have problems such as depression, drug junkyism & drunkardism. They're more likely to use drugs such as Meth, Cocaine & Extasy. In some cases, junkies can sell drugs along with using them or be a drug courier or lookout for drug dealers for money. In pubs, drugs are often sold & pubs are known to get drunkards, junkies & drug dealers.

Now I know this offends people with posters telling me how I'm trashing people who aren't here to defend themselves. But ugly facts don't change because some1 is murdered & it wouldn't surprise me if 1 or more of the victims were pedophiles & or drug junkies + drug dealers because again, many gays & lesbians were victims of gay/lesbian pedophiles which ruined their sexuality & people who are victimized like this are more likely to turn out gay/lesbian in adulthood incl. turn out to be gay/lesbian pedophiles & more likely to be drug junkies incl. in some cases, sell drugs. Think the offended posters know this but hate that I'm not shy & raise this.

RelTol

Your posting(s) seem to reflect a lot of discredited beliefs, such as:

A greater percentage of persons with a homosexual orientation are pedophiles, compared to those with a heterosexual orientation.

That homosexual orientation is a choice or is caused by events in one's childhood, not one's genetic or epigenetic history.

Please consider reading up on these matters before posting your next comment.

Anonymous

I don't care about the gay/lesbian marriage topic which law allows and admit information war by my side was lost on homosexuality, when topic mainly became about the boring gay marriage topic and only once in a while about homosexuality's risks. Truth about homosexuality's dangers don't change and truth must be told though information war is lost. Homosexual/lesbian conduct is bad for health like tobacco & needs to be treated like tobacco use by adults. If willing & knowing adults want to use tobacco or do gay/lesbian conduct, then that's their life, but it must be treated as harmful like tobacco is. I know what APA, mainstream psychologists & psychiatrists say about gay/lesbian conduct, but they are ideologues. I think that they must make it a crime to do sex changes.

I have thought about this & don't think any1 can rebut conclusion that childhood sex abuse victims of gay/lesbian pedophiles have more risk of turning out gay/lesbian by copying the conduct they learned because think you know that conduct incl. sexual conduct can be learned. Think you know it is possible for people who are victims of same sex molestation (such as victims of gay pedophile priests) to copy this sexual conduct and do gay conduct in adulthood incl. turn out to be gay pedophiles.

Anonymous

I spoke on June 20, 2016 to Cliff Kincaid because of columns he wrote here http://www.renewamerica.com/columns/kincaid/160618 here http://www.renewamerica.com/columns/kincaid/160615 & http://www.renewamerica.com/columns/kincaid/160618

Now Cliff in the past, has talked of how most media is pro-gay, fact that many gays & lesbians were victims of pedophiles as kids which ruined their sexuality with in worse cases, turning out to be gay/lesbian pedophiles, fact that gays & lesbians are more likely to be drug junkies, sell drugs as here’s an article Cliff Kincaid wrote in 2015 http://www.aim.org/aim-column/exposing-hollywood-pedophiles/ In 2010, Cliff Kincaid wrote a column where among other things discusses higher drug junkyism rates of gays & lesbians here http://www.conservativetruth.org/article.php?id=1890

I called Cliff on June 20, 2016 telling him that I wouldn’t be surprised if 1 or more of Orlando victims were drug dealers & or gay pedophiles. I told Cliff Kincaid as I have said here-while mass murder is wrong, that doesn’t mean martyr the victims because if a drug dealer is murdered, we punish the murderer, but we don’t martyr the drug dealer. Cliff Kincaid asked on how do we know there were drug dealers & that 49 innocent people were killed. I told Cliff Kincaid the fact that many gays & lesbians were victims of pedophiles, that many gays & lesbians are drug junkies along with fact that gay/lesbian bars are known to sell drugs like Extasy, Meth, Cocaine, etc. & that ugly facts don’t change just because people were murdered.

Cliff Kincaid hung up, because he can’t rebut. I think Cliff Kincaid was dishonest as for years, Cliff Kincaid has talked about this but on June 20, 2016, he hangs up when these facts are said. It’s possible that drugs such as Meth, Extasy & Cocaine were sold @ the Orlando gay pub as pubs are known to get drug dealers. Possible that 1 or more of the Orlando victims were as kids victims of gay/lesbian pedophiles which ruined their sexuality & don’t be surprised if 1 or more of the Orlando victims themselves turned out to be pedophiles by copying conduct they learned.

I don’t think Mr. Cliff Kincaid is surprised by this. I don’t think Cliff Kincaid’s honest when he told me that 49 victims were innocent, as he also did in 1 column. I again told Cliff Kincaid that mass murder is wrong, but that we must not martyr the murder victims because getting murdered doesn’t change ugly facts about the victim. Cliff Kincaid’s reply to me was dishonest & he hung up because he can’t rebut what I said or what he has said for years in his interviews with Peter J. LaBarbera or his columns where Cliff Kincaid talked of high drug junkyism rates that gays & lesbians have, etc.

Anonymous

Even the pro-gay sites Huffington Post & Queerty admit that gays, lesbians & transexuals (mutilated gays/lesbians) are more likely to be drug junkies as you can see these 3 links http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/why-do-gay-men-do-crystal-meth_us_57... https://www.queerty.com/whats-behind-the-enduring-allure-of-crystal-meth... & https://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20160201/west-village/meth-is-overlooke...

What the Huffington Post & Queerty links omit are violent crimes gays, lesbians & transexuals commit while high on drugs.

-If the gay (some cases lesbian) is high on drugs such as cocaine & or meth while committing indecent exposure, stalking, etc., then the homosexual can commit a more violent crime incl. murder in a drug rage after committing indecent exposure. Stalking, indecent exposure, etc. may not be the only crime which the homosexual intends esp. if he is high on drugs. Think you know that when gays & lesbians commit sex abuse, the first thing they do is commit indecent exposure, grab a person’s genitals against will before doing something more violent.

I would rather have a case where a jury decides if a man’s reaction to bashing or killing a homosexual is justified or excess vs. the man doesn’t do enough and the gay does something worse. Most men and boys who are victims of gays usu. won’t call cops to report that a gay is committing indecent exposure, harassment or in worst cases molestation until some1 reacts violently and bashes the gay.

Sign Up for Breaking News