I’M GAY, and last Monday I got killed twice.
Since I’m “dead,” I leave it to you to imagine where I’d be—hell, or somewhere worse than eternal suffering (depending on how bigoted, unfeeling, and hating you are). One thing is for sure: I got killed twice.
On Monday morning, I woke up to news about the shooting at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida, that left more than 40 people dead and more than 50 people injured. My heart ripped into pieces.
I’m in the Philippines, yet I feel the anguish of those grieving in Florida and other parts of the globe. I’m in the Philippines, yet I am drowning in the tsunami of tears of those lamenting their loved ones’ passing. I’m in the Philippines, yet I share in their sorrow.
We are oceans and continents apart, but I have never felt this close to people I don’t know.
Other people say that I care too much, that I can do nothing about these occurrences. Maybe they’re right. I shouldn’t really care, especially now that I shouldn’t be feeling anything at all. I’m already dead—double-dead, technically speaking.
But even if I say that, I find it appalling that some people tell me to my face or imply that I move on from this issue.
Because. I. Can’t.
I simply can’t. The wounds are still fresh. Even death, I suppose, can’t heal the wounds in my rainbow-bright heart. Tell me I’m overreacting or being too emotional, but I just can’t dismiss my feelings. I just can’t shut them down, like a laptop. I just can’t kill them, like they killed me. You see, I’m very emotional, but those people who tell me to shut things down in an instant have a lot to learn about healing and forgiving.
I mourn because I am so much a part of the LGBTQ+ community. I used #Lovewins in celebration when same-sex marriage was declared legal in some parts of the United States. I shed a tear or two whenever I hear stories of gay people being mistreated, or married to the one they love. I take part in online campaigns, and I educate students on the essence of equality, be it concerning gender or marriage.
Equally importantly, I mourn because I am so much a part of humanity, and I can’t fathom how people like Omar Mateen can just shoot people in a place considered as a haven for LGBTs. What gave him, or anyone like him, the right to decide to take away lives? While reading the news on Monday morning, it seemed that the text became bullets blasting from my screen, digging into my flesh, tearing through my rib cage and into my heart. And I think I heard my heart ripping.
I woke up at 5:57 in that morning, only to die at 5:58.
My second death came about when some religious people (the Westboro Baptist Church pastor, to name one) rejoiced at the killings.
Amid the tragic event, these people said, not “I’m sorry for your loss,” but “There’s 50 less pedophiles in this world” and “You know, Orlando, Florida, is a little safer tonight” and “God sent the shooter…” Seriously? You must be kidding me! What sort of religion teaches its people to take delight in the sorrow of those who have lost loved ones? And justify the deliberate killing of 49 people as their god’s way of working in mysterious ways?
This religious hate culture has to stop.
Since I am already dead and have nothing to lose, let me say that this hatred is rooted in the hypocrisy of religious groups claiming to be founded on love, kindness and morality. It is they who should be blamed for the proliferation of hatred. Yes. Them. Who else teaches to stone people to death, convert gays and lesbians to straight people, call homosexuality a mortal sin, etc.?
Even if these religious people are not advocating violence, why don’t they teach people not to resort to violence? If they can’t do this, I suggest they stop claiming that their churches are institutions of love, kindness and everything holy. Let me also point out that these hypocritical religious institutions preach about being morally upright while encouraging violence against other people. They should stop claiming that they strengthen the moral fiber of the masses, for what is happening is the exact opposite. They are more divisive than unifying.
And let me get away with these statements for I have been dead for quite some time now. Let me get away with it, like Filipinos did with Manny Pacquiao, when they elected him senator despite his condemnation of gay people. Overlook my apathy toward these religious institutions, like other people did when they elected Rodrigo Duterte to the presidency despite his curses and insults to women, journalists, the Pope, Congress, etc.
These days, people are insulted when their religious beliefs are offended, whether directly or not, intended or not. It’s agonizing to live in this hell we call the world, where people are more offended by two men kissing, or a man in a dress, than people throwing stones at other people, or people killing one another. This is the only sense that I see fit to use Pacquiao’s words: People can be “worse than animals.”
The news says the number of those killed at the nightclub is 49. I say it’s not accurate. Not only those 49 people, and I, have died. The shooter also killed their families and loved ones, as well as the millions of members and supporters of the LGBT community.
That’s not even close to accuracy. If we will think about it, those who continue the hate crime, speak evil of others, condemn gay people, rejoice over the mourning of those who lost loved ones in this tragic event, also got killed, and they are not aware of their deaths. Their sanity, humanity, and compassion, as well as the good tenets their religions hold to be true and correct, have died as well. Because in a manner of speaking, anything not living is dead.
So we should be mourning, not only the death of the 49 people, after all, but also the death of humanity.
I don’t know what to feel now, or if I can still feel anything. I got killed twice. In contradiction, I have never felt more alive. I feel the flame burning in my heart to do something, to continue fighting, and maybe someday forgive and love those who hurt us. I hear a voice crying inside my gut, like a rock song, telling me to go back to life for the young generation of the LGBT community.
It takes two deaths for me to wake up and say: End the hate. How many more deaths will it take for others to do the same?
Marvin L. Senobio, 23, is an English teacher in a private high school.
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