I am an old dyke. I’ve been out and proud since 1977 – a long time. When I came out, it wasn’t like it is now, even in NYC, where I lived. The bars were where we went to be ourselves. There was no other space. In the bars, we could breathe (through the omnipresent thick haze of cigarette smoke); we could be ourselves – let down our proverbial hair. And we could dance. All night. Even those of us who were terrible, inhibited dancers could dance. That we did – til 4 am most weekends. Then we went out to the Empire Diner, had an early breakfast, and went home to bed.
It’s gotten so much better since those days. There’s been a definite path forward for us, even though many have been attacked, and many have died. I almost believed that our worst days were behind us. I know, intellectually, that they are. But in my heart, my shattered heart, it feels like all the struggles of my generation and those before me have been for naught. Since Sunday morning, I have been broken.
This is personal. It’s different – not more awful than the other mass murders committed with the weapons of mass destruction that were designed for the military – because I’m an old dyke, and I don’t want my people murdered.
When I don’t know what to do, I write. Over the past couple of days, I wrote this poem (although, truth be told, it came to me early Monday morning, virtually intact):
June – the month of Pride
Saturday night at the club
Pulsating with energy, celebration,
undulating bodies move as one,
bodies grinding, awash
with sweat and sex
safe to be all they are, letting down
guards, letting out love
freely, openly, joyfully.
Music pounds into souls, the energy
of the dance floor programmed
by the pulse of its inhabitants.
Without skipping a beat, a different
rhythm erupts…BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM!
over and over and over and over
a relentless barrage of bullets
randomly sprayed toward the mass
of celebrants. Dancers dive
for cover; lucky ones
scatter/run/crawl away (or hide
for hours under the unlucky
dead bodies splayed about them).
Bullets pierce bodies, extinguishing
49 young lives, souls who a moment before
had not a care in the world but to exude
love and pride, pride and joy, joy and hope.
For the future.
There is no sense in mass murder
hatred and pain so deep that only death
will assuage the fear…of the other.
Heal the hate
Refuse the rage
Renew the right – to live
Out and proud
Filled with promise for the future
Moving forward to dance
once more, la vida loca
pulsing through our souls.
REST IN PEACE.