By Mark Naison (June 14, 2016)
I just received this letter from a former student living in Brazil who came out shortly after he graduated.. I needed to share it here because of its powerful message:
Hey Doc, I wanted to reach out to you about what happened in Orlando. I’ve been shaken by this in a way that I’m having a hard time putting to words.
As someone who has always known the dangers of living in a world that is often hostile to gay people, I’ve always tried to tell myself that the best of people will inevitably prevail. Yesterday, I was wrong.
Gay bars and gay clubs are where men and women who are rejected from every other place in society go to. They have always been a place where no matter how bad someone felt about themselves, there were others who probably felt the same way. When most institutions turn their back, gay clubs are often the one place that, with all their shortcomings, accept gay people explicitly for who they are. The one place where you can express that purest of emotion without the fear of harm or judgment. Something as simple as a hug or a kiss.
This was an attack on a vulnerable community and if I’m drawing any strength from this, it’s been from the outpouring of support from around the world. From Muslim brothers and sisters who have denounced this act and have lined up to donate blood. From our President who affirmed the dignity of the LGBTQ community and from my friends near and far.
The gay community will not be broken by this because perhaps more than most communities, gay people know full well what hate can lead to. I believe that the best of America will emerge in the aftermath of what happened not because I think so but because I must.
Thanks for listening Doc. I just needed to share that with someone and I know you’ll take my words to heart as you do for all those you stand up for and defend.
(Feature image by Jere Keys under Creative Commons)