We see the news about Orlando and we feel helpless. We feel scared of the world our children are growing up in. My family and I took took it very hard because we were planning to go to Pride festivities that morning and the reality of our vulnerability was shocking. The reactions of many people in my life was to tell me not go as a family to the Pride festival as planned that day or to tell me after the fact that they wish I hadn’t gone because they are so worried. A few close people were horrified for my stepson’s safety when they saw video of him dancing in a skirt at the parade. Many of my straight ally friends decided not to go to Pride festivals as planned. That is exactly what hateful bigot terrorists want. They want us to stop being ourselves, to stop celebrating and they want you to be too scared to support us. 

There were allies killed in Orlando including Yilmary Rodriquez Solivan who was supporting her brother-in-law, and Brenda Lee Marquez McCool who was there supporting one of her 11 children. There was tremendous risk in supporting Queer people at Stonewall in 1969 and apparently there is still risk in being an ally. 

On my own social media my queer friends were grieving and still are. Some straight friends have shown solidarity by posting articles and thoughts. But there was something missing, and I was having a hard time processing what I was feeling, let alone putting it into words – until I received this message: 

“Moorea, I just wanted to reach out and say that I’m sorry your community was targeted in such a horrific way this past weekend. I have a lot of admiration and support for you. I know we haven’t maintained contact, but you actually come to mind fairly frequently and I think about how cool you are. I have realized and done my best to empathize over the added burden your sexual orientation can be in this life. I wanted you to know that you are on my mind and I am praying for you and your friends in this time of fear and grief. I hope I am not overstepping my bounds and you receive my words in genuine, albeit perhaps naive, love.” – Old Friend. 
My response: 
“Hello! Thank you for this sweet message. I am a pretty tough cookie and very mentally stable and yet only reason I have kept my head up this week is my children and that I get to remarry next month and have it be nationally recognized. I was the lady who screamed and cried in my car at whole foods the second I got away from the kids and walked the entire store bawling while.
 
I must say I believe the events in Orlando are going to be a mental health and suicide concern (above the fact that LGBT folks are already a major mental health and suicide risk) so many of us are afraid to leave the house or ever be in a group. The teenagers are at huge risk and I am grieving for what they have seen and heard and must deal with if they are already out and grieving for those who will now not come out. I am grieving for the families, partners of victims and also for the Muslim shooter as we have been told he may have had such a deep fundamentalist religion-Induced internalized homophobia and self-hatred that he could kill others. I ask myself many strange spiritual questions: do I wish he had killed himself and spared further suffering in the world- his own? How do I feel when I hear others wish horrific things like for him to suffer for the rest of his life in jail, likely to be raped by other male inmates? Was he abused as a child?
 
What I do imagine true is he learned homophobia from religion, family and our society. The best way to be an ally to me and other LGBT folks, families, youth and youth that are now children who do not even know they are queer- is to be OUT about being an ally to us in your life and on social media as well as in your church and work place as well as to be out as an ally frequently in front of your beautiful children so that they know the person who loves them most loves queer people and will support them being whoever they are and to surround them with other allies so that they feel the world is safe if they are different. Not being out as an ally in these ways is being complacent to homophobic violence. There is always more work to be done to make the world more just and loving. God Bless your family and keep all of you safe!”
I suddenly realized 4 very intense things:
 A) I desperately wanted my straight friends to reach out.
 
B) I would be really perturbed if they reached out without also first being OUT as an ally publicly.
 
C) I would need to actually TELL people what I expected from them as a true ally because there was a combo out there of general ignorance about allyship as well as the paralyzing grief the comes with a mass shooting and the reality of living in a country where we could all be shot to death any time.
 
D) I expect my allies to risk everything to do what is right for progress and to support and protect others. Especially to be OUT as an ally for queer and gender-queer identifying children and children like mine who could be targeted simply for having same-sex parents. 
safe zone sticker
 
My Old Friend posted my words on her Facebook page and let me know that she had just quit a job at a religious institution which did not fit with her values. Years before we had spoken of her leaving a church known for its misogyny and homophobia. Incredibly hard decisions and I am very proud of her. While incremental, both political and spiritual progress can help make important change.
 
And then I saw this twitter posting and it did sum up what was wrong on my social media and in some of my friendships: Screen Shot 2016-06-16 at 8.06.37 AM
 I searched around and found at least 10 religious-identified friends Catholic, Christian and Jewish who had always been supportive of me and LGBTQ love to my face but had never done so on their very active social media or in social settings I have attended with them. 
 
This is not to essentialize religious people. I am religious myself. But I have begun to notice that there are some close people in my life who are religious and in private conversation seem to have a rift between their internal, heartfelt  values and their religious home. So I want to send this reminder: 
 
If your religion or church or temple dogma does not sit right with your heart and if they have not come out for LOVE, there are plenty of other places to love and commune with God that align more closely to your heart’s values. 
 
 
Here is a list of LGBTQ affirming religious affiliations that includes sections of Catholicism, Protestantism, Judaism and more! http://www.gaychurch.org/affirming-denominations/
 
Keep going. Keep thinking. Keep changing. Keep learning. Keep asking. 
 
Please come OUT as an ally to LGBTQ people publicly.
 
You will have to come OUT again and again. (We queers have to do it daily – and those of us with kids find we have to do it more frequently than ever before).
 
Then reach out privately to see how hour queer friends are doing. 
 
Sincerest Thanks,
Moorea
www.savvyparentingsupport.com
 
 
 
 

 

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