In deep, intimate moments I’ve often lamented to myself, and anyone who would listen, that there are no more great frontiers. Sure, there are places with unknowns. The ocean is larger and more terrifying than any land mass. We don’t even know where the expanses of space end, or if they ever do stop expanding. But the era of the everyday man grabbing a bag and a vessel and leaving to explore parts unknown, are over. Now to find new things you have to go to school for years and then be sealed in pressurized metal box. I live in Kansas City. The Santa Fe, Oregon and California trails all cross here. It’s covered in the Railroads that later criss-crossed the land. Now we have major highways and interstates that all intersect in what was last stop of civilization before the emptiness of the frontier. But I missed that. I was born hundreds of years too late.
Last Sunday I woke up. And then Monday I woke up. Tuesday. Wednesday. I keep waking up. And I can’t wake up from what must be a nightmare.
“On any given weekend night I know where some of my closest friends will be. They will be at the gay club down in westport, having a marvelous time. Others drive the uber cars that get called to take people safely home after a night out. We may be in Kansas City right now, but these victims are still our family. My first reaction to events like this is to gather everyone I love and keep them safe, but you can’t live that way. Instead, let’s stand together. Let’s mourn the loss of *so* many lives. But do not stand down. As long as we stand, or sit, or even have to curl up to be held by another, but do not hide, the darkness cannot win. I know those of you I didn’t mention by name are likely still asleep and haven’t heard the news. Sleep peacefully while you can. Stay safe, my friends.”
That morning I wrote. I didn’t stop writing until I went to bed at 3:30 the next morning. I wrote about my family. It is not just our home, but our sanctuary and church that was attacked, invaded and violated. I wrote to my family. We are hurting and reeling and needed each other. I wrote until I ran out of my own words, and then I shared the words of others until I didn’t have energy to do that.
“When you can’t run, you crawl. And when you can’t crawl, you find someone to carry you.” – Firefly
“Please, friends, be gentle with each other. We are all hurting. We are angry. Personally, I want to punch something or someone really hard, repeatedly, for an extended period of time. But I’m not going to because that wouldn’t be good for me. If you disagree with someone, please don’t react even slightly severely. If you have the energy to do that, you have the energy to simply comfort and offer silent support. We are hurting and scared. We are a family united by love, but today we are also united by intense grief and righteous anger.”
That night I went to a friend’s house and watched The Martian. I didn’t really care about any movie, I just needed to get away and be distracted. The movie and its distraction ended and I fell apart in the arms of my friend.
Tuesday night and Wednesday morning I ran out of words. It wasn’t just not being able to speak or articulate clearly. There were no words in my thoughts. The spinning and spiraling of my mind that usually has a constant chatter of words and phrases was just a swirl of lights and noises. That kind of numbness was new. Words have always been a refuge, and that day they abandoned me.
“He’d have you all unravel at the sound of screams but the revolution is comin’.” – Farmer Refuted, Hamilton
There was a post circulating among some in the LGBTQ community, of a series of tweets written by an older lesbian who had fought through the AIDS crisis. She mourned, “this wasn’t supposed to happen to you.” The generation of queers before us fought long and hard for the rights and respect that we now have, however little those may be. They quite literally died so that we could have a sliver of safety. 103 people were slaughtered and maimed in a gay bar. That kind of thing wasn’t supposed to happen anymore. And yet, some of us were painfully unsurprised. We could see the pressure building. While being gay may be more accepted by the general public, there are still many of us whose identities are denied and even vilified.
Monday morning I woke up with Farmer Refuted stuck in my head and a realization at the forefront of my mind. We don’t need new frontiers. We aren’t done with the old ones. There is still work to be done to civilize our world and make it a safe place. Revolution is coming. I stopped in the office of one of the advisors to ask a short question, but stayed for an hour. This advisor happens to be a black woman. We talked about the correlations between people who refuse to be understanding of both of our families. We’ve both had that lovely phrase “all lives matter” thrown in our faces in an effort to redirect the conversations about our pain.
We must stand together. Love wins.
There is much work to do. But for now, let’s take a minute. Take care of yourself. Grieve the dead. Hold those you love. There will be time for action. When that time comes, don’t just talk about the problems, doing something. It’s becoming more apparent how much our lives actually depend on it.