Written by Zamara Perri
A kiss should not end in a mass shooting. But that’s what happened on Saturday, June 11, 2016 at Pulse nightclub in Orlando. Fifty people are dead and another 50-plus are injured because one hateful man who knew nothing about love, a man who in fact abused his own wife, decided it was better to kill wives, husbands, children, aunts, nephews, nieces, brothers, sisters fathers and mothers.
Everyday women who live in other oppressive countries where homophobia is encoded in law, tell me of how they wish they could leave and come to America because it’s safer to be gay here.
In the grand scheme of things, it is safer here. But if you’re black, or a black woman or a black lesbian, not by much.
That night in Orlando, where straight people as well as LGBT people were partying together, shows us just how unsafe it is to live your truth in this country, too.
A Saturday night at the club could have turned out differently if that man had channeled all his energy into fixing his own relationship instead of worrying about what adults do.
Being Black and Gay Is Dangerous
As black lesbians we need so much love, because we live in a society where people make it their mission to tell us daily that we are not worthy of it.
The church, our families who replace love with fear, our partners who were never taught to love, white supremacy which profits off of our self-hatred, our hotep brothers and sisters who spew misinformation about homosexuality and us because we still haven’t quite learned how to love ourselves.
We need so much love because we live in a world where, instead of sharing condolences for the tragic loss of life, one presidential candidate, took the opportunity to reinforce fear and exclusion. Other politicians quoted Bible verses to justify the killing of human life.
And still dozens of regular, voting Americans publicly expressed their sick satisfaction at the loss of human life, echoing the private thoughts of millions.
Now More Than Ever We Need Safe Spaces
Everyday I hear from black women who just want to love and to be loved. That’s it. We just want to safely love each other. But where can we do that? This deranged individual has invaded one of the places where we could go to safely be ourselves and love each other.
One of the most powerful tweets I’ve seen so far can be summed up like this: “If you can’t understand how a bar or a club can be a sanctuary, then you have never been afraid to hold someone’s hands in public.”
This is why we need so much love and to love each other in safe spaces. Unfortunately, when you belong to the LGBT community, there are so many places where we do not feel safe … churches, our family’s homes, our communities of origin, walking down the street holding your lover’s hands.
I know first hand about this fear just like other LGBT folk and specifically, other black lesbians.
I spent many years cowering in fear in the closet, while I worked for a religious organization. Because I’m femme in appearance, I was presumed straight. Several of my co-workers were very vocal of about how nasty they thought the LGBT lifestyle were. When gay marriage first came to to my state, several were strongly against it.
Some people erroneously think that this mindset only belongs to the older generation. However, I had a very shocking conversation with a very young woman who had a burning hate for LGBT folks. When I asked her about inviting gay people into her church home, she was staunchly against it. She literally said gay people needed to go somewhere else.
So what is home? Where is home?
Home is in each other. Home is in each others’ arms. Home is anywhere that we can gather and celebrate each other, whether that places is a club, an LGBT-affirming church or a Facebook group.
Because of all the hatred being spread in this world, black lesbians need to know that we deserve love. We need to know that we are not alone. We are not be afraid; we will not back down.
We will not be afraid to continue doing us and loving in our truth. Our love has nothing to do with what happens in our bedrooms, but everything to do with what happens in our hearts.
Remember, love is love!