Yesterday morning I awoke to the news that someone had stormed into a gay club in Orlando, FL and killed about 50 people and wounded about another 50 and was holding some people hostage until finally the police were able to kill him.
You’ve already heard that story. I know.
You’ve heard it many times by now, with little variations.
Sometimes involving government workers as the victims, or people in an office, or shoppers, or people out for a movie, or even children.
I don’t have anything to say about this that you haven’t already heard elsewhere. I will just add that over the past day I’ve vacillated between being very sad about it and being very angry. Because it is never true that “nothing can be done,” I’m leaning heavily toward being angry.
Because this particular mass murderer had gays in his crosshairs, I thought I’d share this.
Yesterday, by coincidence, mere hours after I awoke to find that a man incensed about gay people had targeted and killed dozens of them, spraying them with bullets in a place they’d gone to drink and dance and meet each other, I went to see probably the foremost musical of our lives that celebrates diversity and difference, “La Cage Aux Folles.” I didn’t particularly feel like fighting traffic downtown to see it when what I really wanted to do was be angry on the internet and in my personal writing, but a female friend and I had set this date about six weeks ago, so I went. It turned out to be exactly what I needed.
Not just because “La Cage,” which focuses on a gay couple and their farcical adventures at their drag-queen nightclub, celebrates the basic human empathy that I believe dwells in most of us.
Not just because this particular production, courtesy of East West Players, one of the nation’s premier Asian theatre companies, is glorious. (Just the sheer professionalism of it all — the singing, dancing, acting, choreography, costumes, everything — was remarkable.)
Not just because I laughed large and loud.
But also because: The makeup of the audience told me that the haters have already lost.
It wasn’t a “gay” audience. And it wasn’t an “Asian” audience. It was just an audience, an audience made up of white, black, yellow and brown, gay and straight, male and female, old and young. A mixed-race couple in front of me (Caucasian and Asian) had brought their son, who I figure is 10. Behind me sat a Chinese man with his elderly mother. A few seats to my left and a row ahead were a white hetero couple in their 70s. I saw a young black woman in the back, and also a girl strapped into an upright wheelchair. And on and on.
All of us were there, together, for a celebratory expression of tolerance, understanding, and joy. Big, pure joy.
Do I want things done about our epidemic of mass shootings? Yes. In the meantime, whatever happens, do I think it likely that anyone can turn back the tide of history — especially now that sentiment travels instantaneously around the world — that ultimately will draw us all closer together? No.
So I’m going to hold onto my rage — truly nurture it — so that the deaths of the people in Florida, and Colorado, and Connecticut, and Texas, and California, and practically everywhere else in the U.S., for whatever “reasons” the various shooters gave, aren’t for nothing. I’m going to talk to my Congressman about the legislation I believe in, and I’m going to send him some money, and send some other money elsewhere against other people. And I’m going to keep telling everyone: I’m not against guns, and I’m not against hunting or target shooting or self-protection — but I’m against gun massacres, and this has to stop.
But while I’m doing all this, I’m going to hold onto hope. Because sooner or later, we will win.