Orlando – A Gay Christian’s response

pulese“I’ve been waiting all week for this. A Saturday night out with the boys. Maybe I’ll meet someone. Always a chance of that in Pulse”

Replace ‘Pulse’ in the above with any gay club or bar in any city around the world and that is probably the thoughts of some those there. It’s normally similar to mine on Friday or Saturday night out in Cork.

But for those attending Pulse in Orlando, Florida on Saturday night, it all ended so differently, so tragically. when a gunman opened fire and killed 50 people, and injured countless others. Members of the LGBT*Q Community, just like me.

It’s hard to figure out mu feelings on this. I’m hurt, angry, heartbroken, shocked, vulnerable and sad. I’m angry that this could happen. That someone could target people just because of who they are, who they love, how they were created.

But we cannot respond in kind. We cannot blame a particular religion, or all religions, for one man’s actions. We must be better than this. If we react to hate with hate, then hate wins. Martin Luther King speaking in 1963 said

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction … The chain reaction of evil – hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars – must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.

lgbt half mastWe must now reach out the hand of comfort to out LGBT*Q Brothers and sisters in Florida who are hurt, grief-stricken, and scared. We must reach out to those who mourn the loss of family friends and friends. We must also look out for those in the world-wide LGBT*Q Community for whom the fear of attacks, rape and murder are a daily fear.

But on the other hand we must also reach out the hand of understanding to our Muslim Brothers and Sisters here and the US as they face the inevitable backlash due to one man’s actions.

We in the LGBT*Q Community must continue to stand tall, roar loudly to be treated equally, demand our place in the Public Square, and not bow our heads in shame because of who we are pr who we love. We must do this, not just for ourselves, but those worse off. The members of the LGBT*Q Community who still live in countries where it is illegal to be gay, for LGBT*Q Muslims, and for LGBT*Q Refugees.

Those of us in religions must continue to work hard to ensure an affirming welcome for all in our churches, temples, mosques and synagogues. This work isn’t easy, nor should it be. But we cannot put limits on God’s love that is open to all.

Vigils are being held in Ireland this week in remembrance for those who died. Tonight In Dublin Belong To, GLEN – GAY AND LESBIAN EQUALITY NETWORK and Transgender Equality Network Ireland are in Bernardo’s Square (beside City Hall on Dame Street, Dublin 2) at 6.30pm Monday and also in Tralee tonight at 9pm in the Square.

In Galway on Wednesday in Eyre Square organised by Amach and also in Cork on Wednesday.

Further Reading:

Thoughts on Orlando – UCC Express Editorial

Queer Muslims exist – and we are in mourning too – The Guardian