In the wee hours of Sunday morning, I was sitting on the second story of 168 York, watching a celebratory Robin Banks present an excerpt from Grindr: The Opera out on the bar’s courtyard. Everyone was laughing. Everyone was excited to see a new depiction of the now-notorious app, put to music and mulled over in director Erik Ransom’s capacious mind.
This was pride month as it should be, and folks there wanted to celebrate. No one knew about the horror that was about to unfold 1100 miles away in Orlando. Wrapped in a happy, laughing stupor at 168, there was no sense that the national and local LGBTQI communities would spent the week leading up to NYC Pride grieving and deciding whether it was safe to go.
Kenneth Reveiz and Salwa Abdussabur of LGBTQ+ Youth Kickback.
And there shouldn’t be. I have lots of thoughts about what happened in Orlando, all of them wrapped in layers of anger and frustration, but here are the two that come most often: This was a hate crime that shouldn’t have happened and was entirely preventable. And it should never happen again.
Enough is enough. On Monday afternoon, I watched members of New Haven’s LGBTQI, Latinx, religious and secular communities band together to speak about what happened in Orlando, and how we, as compassionate citizens and residents of this city, can make and maintain a safe space. As an ally, I am moved profoundly by their courage and grace. As a proponent of gun control, I am outraged that we’re still having this discussion.
But I want to thank you — all of you, New Haveners, and especially those who were out at the Amistad Memorial and United Church on the Green, or whose who came to talk to us in the WNHH studio, or those who sent the New Haven Independent thoughtful messages about our coverage — for responding to this in the most beautiful way possible. For speaking out about hate not begetting hate as candidates like Trump wrongly shame the Muslim community. For asking those in the LGBTQI community: “Are you okay?” For reminding straight allies that listening is potent and wondrous.