An Artist's Guide: Taking It Personally

I've barely begun to process the tragedy that occurred this weekend. Mostly because I'm still facing the guilt of inwardly looking away as I scrolled through the headlines. Another shooting. Another mass killing. Another cry for help. Another hashtag #prayforOrlando.  I didn't want to hear any more.

But this wasn't just another act of senseless gun violence. It was a targeted assault on the LGBTQ community. It was an attack on freedom of identity and expression and love. It was the manifestation of all the darkness and fear and ugliness that we breathe in every day on U.S. soil but try to sweep under the rug. Our world is ill. Our souls need healing. This was not just another shooting. This was not just another political event. They are not just the lives of 'others.' Our future peace demands that we take this personally, no matter how hard it is to face.

What that means could be different for every person. But for me, it means standing for love and equal rights for all safe expressions of gender and sexuality. It means having difficult discussions with my family and friends about transphobic and anti-gay sentiments that we now realize are simply anti-human. Same goes for anti-Muslim comments and hate speech of any kind. It means #fuckDonaldTrump. It means not giving in to fear. It means calling out the ugly in myself and being aware of my privilege. It means celebrating diversity and the history of LGBTQ people whose identities were erased. It means I care, even when I don't want to because it's exhausting.

And then, I pray.