Chosen Family Open Thread and Safe Space For Healing

Feature image via The Guardian

Hello, my dear friends. It’s been over 24 hours since I woke up to the news of the shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, and even though I’ve hardly read about or thought about anything else since then, I still don’t know what to say or how to talk about it. A lot of you are probably feeling the same way. Many gay and trans folks who were able to be with chosen family yesterday are back at their jobs today, surrounded by people who can’t understand what’s going on in our hearts right now, or — worse — using this hate crime to double down on racism, xenophobia, and gun mania. So, we thought it might be a good idea to get an open thread going, to create a safe space where we can process and begin to heal with each other’s help.

We love y’all very much. We will make it through this together, like we always have done, and always will do.


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Heather Hogan

Heather Hogan is an Autostraddle senior editor who lives in New York City with her wife, Stacy, and their cackle of rescued pets. She's a member of the Television Critics Association, the Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer critic. You can also find her on Twitter, and Instagram.

Heather has written 1247 articles for us.

433 Comments

  1. The weight of this tragedy is especially heavy today. I’m so sad, y’all. I’ve been avoiding my mom because i don’t want to talk to her about this and today she texted me “how are things your way” and i said “i’m sad and tired” and she said “i know. it is sad” and i burst into tears.

  2. I’m still pretty numb. There was a 5000+ person vigil/rally last night here in Louisville. I didn’t go because (a) too numb to get out of the house and (b) really, really don’t deal well with crowds of any size. But it was good to know that the energy was there. But, me, today — still just numb.

    • I’m not up to going out there. I was supposed to go yesterday to the Hollywood pride. I know nothing happened because they caught him but still. It would be my first Pride and my mom just finally accepted me as a lesbian. So, I’d celebrate until I couldn’t anymore. I even had planned to wear my pink and black tutu. I was gonna take my sister to go with me since I didn’t know anyone else to go with.

      I think I’ll just stay in and celebrate with watching The L Word or Orange Is The New Black <3

      Please, I could use some more queer friends to feel safer <3

      https://www.facebook.com/CrystalLivingDeadDollRamos

  3. i’m supposed to be working on my thesis, but haven’t gotten anything done today. my heart is so broken over this whole thing. all those lost lives, the unbearable sadness of their loved ones, the homophobia raising its ugly head, people refusing to acknowledge this for what it is, the inevitable increase in islamophobic hatred that will follow…
    what a shitshow recently. along with horrible racist occurrences in germany where i’m from, and all over europe, in the wake of the european soccer tournament. i feel so helpless and angry and just want to crawl into a hole…
    but autostraddle is such a good place right now. sending out all my love and solidarity. and happy pride month, because in spite of all this we have to keep celebrating.

    • i am especially grateful for this thread because i feel like i’m annoying people with my constant “i am so sad about this” texts. it makes me question whether my grief is even legitimate, considering i didn’t know anyone who was involved, and i’m from another country…

      • Your grief–and mine, and ours–is real and it is legitimate and yes, it is different from how the loved ones of those who died feel right now.

        But let’s remember what a hate crime is. From one perspective, killing an LGBT person for their sexuality or gender (or killing someone for belonging to a particular race, religion, etc) is no more terrible than killing any human being for any reason. But hate crimes are designed to instill fear and dread in a community of people. They mean we’ll always be looking over our shoulder or feel vaguely unsafe. They’re a toxic poison designed to replace freedom and pride with fear and shame. A single death is a crime with millions of victims. That’s why they are counted as crimes and punished by the law as such.

        We can all picture ourselves in that club. We’re not only grieving for the dead and their loved ones: we’re trying to heal ourselves before we can even begin to make sense of how the ground beneath us has shifted.

        Today, my heart and my thoughts are especially with trans women of color: they live with this grief and fear and ever-shifting ground today and every day.

        But you can give yourself permission to feel the grief that’s in you now. You haven’t stolen it from anybody.

      • Thanks for writing this. I’m from europe too and I feel the same as you. I’ve talked about it with friends, but I can’t stop thinking about it.

        I wondered too whether what we are feeling is legitimate or not, and I guess that it is. We are a community, even if we don’t know each other, even if we live a million miles away, we celebrate together, we grief together. And maybe by sharing our pain, there’s a chance (and a hope) that healing will be easier.

    • Hi, I’m new. Like, new new. My ex-bf and I broke up last month and I decided that was my cue to explore my queer feelings, and also consider moving back to the US from abroad. So this is the first Pride month where I’m reaching out to meetup groups and the like and start connecting with the queer community, and start dating women perhaps after my heart’s healed more from my breakup.

      and now this. It makes me realize that as much as I’ve berated myself for making it to 30 only having dated men and remaining in a fairly heteronormative bubble, there are reasons. I see the pointed silences among my old friends from school and my family. I see the Bible verses that say “love” but also say “sin.” I realize that my choices have been forged by fear.

      It’s just a lot. Thank you all for being here, for being visible, for making me feel that I can speak with you about this. <3

  4. i’m out to everyone but my parents and i know that’s a small and inconsequential thing but i have to see them tonight and i don’t know how i’m going to make it through small talk that i’m sure will involve orlando without just bursting into tears. i spent yesterday with my girlfriend and we cried and i’m trying to hold onto the fact that everyone who knows me, truly knows me, loves me and supports me, but it is hard and the world is so scary. i’m glad all of you are here, and i love you, and i appreciate you.

  5. You know if you had asked me objectively on Friday how a terrible event like this would effect me I would have said that it was sad but not much else. In reality I am completely devistated. I think that living in Canada means that I don’t often leave room for the moments when I feel afraid and unsafe. It has seemed unfair to voice those feelings when there are places in this world where I might not be brave enough to be out. This confronting of our vulnerability and the real hate that people have for our community is hard…but it’s better together. Thanks for the thread.

  6. Thank you for this. Having to share support online appearing as an ally because of people I am not out to. I just need a space to say that this is hurting me too. So thank you.

  7. There was a candle light vigil in our town but I stayed home and lit a candle and prayed. Crowds are overwhelming to me even though I think now they could be a comforting reminder that we’re not alone.

  8. I’m sad. I’m scared, and I spent yesterday with a homophobic family friend, my best friend, my mother, and a priest who is apparently trying to drink his internalized homophobia away. Yesterday was my mother’s birthday and I spent it swallowing grief and allowing her day to be her day. I didn’t see my girlfriend till the party started, and spent most of it trying to engage without crying or looking inward, with her holding my hand and doing the same. I missed the vigils, but I caught the Tonys and Lin and then John Oliver made me cry. I never cry. Ask my mom. “Are the Tonys making you cry?????’ Well, yes and no.

    What I’m trying to say is that I feel guilty that I’m safe and have my support system and my family and my girlfriend in my parent’s house talking to my aunts and family friends and being a part, being my part.
    I’m guilty and I’m angry that I have to explain what happened and why I’m angry and that I have to lock it away. I’m angry that I have to put family first while my chosen family is dying and mourning.

    I’m scared this will be with me for awhile. Forever.

    • Don’t feel guilty for being safe. We all deserve to be safe. I’m sure the people who died, and their friends and families, want us all to be safe, too.

      Also, all these people who are lining up to give blood want us to be safe– I’m sure of it:

      Survival guilt is a real feeling, so don’t feel guilty for feeling guilty. But if you can achieve it, I think it’s good to feel safe, and I want us all to want that for each other and ourselves.

      • Yeah. Yeah.

        I’ve….my response is gonna be guilt, because of who I am and other trauma i’ve experienced.

        It’s what I do. I know this, and I’m working on it.

        In any case i saw true colors yesterday: a bi classmate wanting to shut the door on the gun control conversation (and that was the first post I saw), straight classmates letting me vent and rage about the former without judgment, and with support. And my girlfriend, crying and being raw with me, pretending to watch the sharks so that we could get time to feel.

    • The Tonys made me cry too. They made it a little bit better though and I’ve been latching onto them (there are a lot of songs about resilience in there).

      And yeah to the scared this will be with us forever thing. Right now it kind of feels like there’s been nothing but tragedy for my friends and my community this year. I’m having trouble doing the hope thing.

  9. Decided to check in with a queer co-worker today, and discovered he knew one of the victims and was barely holding it together. We hugged, and he thanked me for caring to say something, even though we don’t know each other very well or work in the same department. It hurts my heart that he’s walking around the office with red-rimmed eyes and no one else even thought to ask.

    I have a rainbow flag that I bought in the Castro hanging above my cubicle. I originally only put it up to irritate a homophobic, misogynistic co-worker, since he can see it perfectly from his office, but today it’s a banner of Pride and love and support. There are only a few of us queers in my company, but I’m going to message them all and let them know I’m here for them, even if the rest of the office is silent and business as usual.

    Take care of each other out there, Family. You are loved. <3 <3 <3

  10. I’m really glad I have today off work. I live in a pretty conservative area and I’m not out to coworkers or family but I can’t talk about this in any way that’s not intensely personal. Hopefully by tomorrow my coworkers will have moved onto other topics. I’m just worried they won’t and I’ll have to either 1. Bite my tongue(again.again.) or 2. Possibly say something not smart. I’m just sad and even more tired.

  11. I got my ass over to a vigil here in my city last night. It was already scheduled to be Pride week and this was the kickoff event, but given what happened, they added a remembrance for Orlando. You know what I saw at the gathering? Happy people, folks of all ages laughing and coming together, dogs, children playing. I sat and chatted with someone I know from the local coffee shop, a nonbinary fellow I didn’t know super-well, but we hung out in total comfort and self-assurance, discussed sci-fi, and shared bread pudding.

    They can’t ever kill that. They can’t take that away from us.

  12. I love y’all so much. I’m so sad and overwhelmed I feel like my brain is only working at about ten percent of its normal speed, but I want you to know I am so proud to be a part of this community and I’m going to keep fighting with you every day for the rest of my life.

  13. I have felt mildly sick to my stomach since yesterday morning. I’m sitting at work, staring at a computer screen, telling myself to stay away from social media. But it’s so difficult. My father has been very ill, hospitalized for the past month, and I’m overall feeling a generalized sadness and anxiety. Nothing is safe, people die for no reason, and the general public is filled with assholes who lack compassion. Other times, I’m ok. I’m safe, I have people who love and accept me and my dad is getting treatment, even if it’s not exactly a return to full health. It’s been a very up and down few days.

  14. Thank you Autostraddle for giving us this space, and for being such a key part of my Chosen Family. I didn’t think I needed this right now but then I saw *another* straight friend put the “we are Orlando” filter over her profile picture and wow…I didn’t think I could get any more rage-ful than I already was, but it happened. I’m grateful that I had already planned to take today off of work, but I wish I only needed it to recover from dancing and drinking and celebrating Pride, instead of all that plus grieving and raging.

    So much love to all of you. ❤️?❤️

  15. Thank you so much for creating this thread. You are right, I turned on the radio to my drive to work and no one is talking about it at all. I cancelled my Sirius xm but it wouldn’t have mattered anyway because they shut down the OutQ channel. I listen to the news, not because I want to hear the gruesome details over and over again but at least someone is talking about it.

    I feel so at a lost and I keep crying. I feel so bad for all of those people. People in my community. That cold have easily been me and my friends. The victims faces look similar to faces I’ve seen at the gay clubs here in Vegas time and time again. Those last text messages. Knowing that you are about to die but hoping for a different outcome. I stand with my gay brothers and sisters on the this day and forever and to the mother on TV that was crying all day night looking for her son who happened to be one of the dead, I’m so so sorry.

  16. I am so sad and so scared about all of this.

    I know that this didn’t directly affect me – heck, I’ve never been to Orlando, I’m not latinx, I don’t go to clubs, I don’t know any of the victims personally – but gay clubs are a sanctuary for so many people. And we don’t have a lot of sanctuaries. I’m just so scared that people are going to engage in copycat attacks. I’m so sad that people are blaming Islam for this. I don’t want Islamophobia to be a part of this.

    I’m so sad that people are saying they can’t understand this, when I can understand this too easily. This is a natural progression of words into anger into violence. The politics of the US are building more and more into a frenzy, and I am so scared that this isn’t an isolated incident.

    • This is exactly how I am feeling. I have never been to orlando, didn’t know any victims, don’t even go to clubs, so I never would have thought it would hit me this hard but I am devastated by it, it felt so close to home, because it was our community.

      • The more that I’ve been thinking about this and meditating and just general spending my time – I realize that my biggest fear is for my community as a whole. If these sort of political and community spaces are in danger, and if so many other members of the lgbtqia community are in danger, it feels like our existence as a whole is in jeopardy. While I do feel less personally safe, what I’m really feeling is the danger to everyone else, especially Lantinx and Muslim communities. It’s more an fear and mourning of the community on top of the nervousness I have about my own personal safety.

  17. I ended up going to my friend’s get together even though while I was there I wasn’t “present” at all. I kept checking my phone and couldn’t stop thinking about it and wanting to cry and be held.

    I thought I slept ok, but then I had a bad dream where a friend turned against me and screamed “fuck you” over and over at me and began listing why; first was “you’re out of your mind” so that was also great

    I feel physically tired so idek how I feel rn except tired and drained. 2016 deserves to be canceled; everybody off the ride.

    I also saw smthg claiming that someone who survived the shooting is saying there was more than one shooter?????? Which is making me anxious to even consider, much less wondering whether or not its true.

    I see my psychiatrist tomorrow for meds and I don’t feel like I can talk to him at all. The last time I did, he gave me grief for how I reacted to my father walking out, telling me that pushing him wasn’t “civilized”; before that he had been all skeptical as to what rallies and protests were supposed to do. I don’t need to bring this up and have him say ridiculous shit in his calm-ass British accent, I really really don’t.

    There’s a vigil downtown tonight, but it’d take me 2 buses both ways, and that’s $4 for a day pass, and I have to watch my money carefully….. even though part of me wants to be with ppl.

    Baltimore pride isn’t until next month, & before I wasn’t planning on going bc of how corporate and stuff pride has become overall. Also it just makes me sad, idk. But then I felt like going and trying,but then I’m also scared. I roughly know the area, so I think I might know a few places where I could run, depending on time of day, but….. idk idk idk. I don’t want to text my mommy goodbye, yknow????????? (I guess you can find it “funny” since I’ve been so suicidal this year that this makes me so afraid, huh?)

    I wish I could hug ppl and be hugged by people but I don’t even ever feel like im accepted by anyone even when I try to be, so even though I want comfort and I want to help, I feel cut off from any queer community, even online. I try to reach out and. ..idk idk it feels so silent and I kind of want to scream that I need somebody right now who understands and idek

    I can’t articulate anything at all; i’m just word vomiting. I wish I could be eloquent and choose the right words and be supportive in that way, but im lonely and upset and afraid and drained and exhausted and all that shit. I just wanna be held. Idk

    • I don’t know that I can give you the fill comment you deserve but I just want to reach out and day a lot of this is resonating with me. And I hope you get to be held.

      Also I’ve seen multiple sources talking about there being up to 3 (with a 4th intended) person. Not to make you anxious, but because people deserve to know what’s going on.

      Please take care of yourself.

      • Thanks ♡ I don’t think I’ll make it; idk if I can manage it and idk about taking the bus home at night,coming from a queer event… I hate that I even have to think about it that way now

        I wish I could manage it bc I feel invisible and alone

    • not to say what is or isn’t true, but i know in the case of a suspected shooter incident at the university i went to, there were a lot of false reports of shots fired and multiple shooters because when people panic they think they see or hear things that aren’t factual. so, that to say, while it’s possible that there was a second or even third shooter in the orlando shooting, it’s also very possible that people got freaked out and misunderstood what they were seeing or hearing.

      also, i’m sorry you’re having such a rough time of this, caitlin. it’s all pretty fucking terrible. *hugs*

      • Thanks ♡

        I also keep seeing the most rage inducing comments, and some dumbass on fb going on about guns and shit and I want to rip his fucking cishet male head off

        They care more about their fucking guns than human lives.

      • And I also feel so alone like im posting a lot on fb but nobody’s like, ,,checked in on me or anything, and it’s bringing back feelings of not being “queer enough” & like I’ll never be accepted, even in a moment of tragedy where I’m also feeling affected by it …idk that sounds and feels selfish, but. Idk

        • This right here. I’ve talked to only one friend today and that was for about 10 minutes only. I’m like hellloooo, you all know I’m queer. Radio silence. Feeling very alone.

        • To tag on to Sydney’s comment, you’re not alone in this! Not a single person has checked in with me about this, so I feel like I can’t share my feelings about it to anyone.

          And I’m pretty sure I’m off the weekend of Baltimore Pride – hope to see you there.

          • @claritaosita Yeah, i….. was making sure to check in on people so i guess they kind of returned the favor at least sometimes, but. idk. Maybe i’ve worn them out haha…

            Hopefully. Maybe. Hopefully. Is that your fluffy dog as your picture??? What a distinguished looking pupper.

          • It won’t let me reply below anymore, but yes, that’s my dog (he died a few years ago), but he was certainly very distinguished. :D

            I’ve checked in with a few people, but honestly I’m not sure if those people actually remember I’m queer. Since I’m married to a cis man, it’s easy for people to forget.

            Anyway, I hope you’re taking care of yourself right now (and always)! The Alexandria, VA vigil tonight was a little healing for me.

  18. Guys, I’ve been crying since yesterday and I don’t even know what to do. I feel so alone. I’m. So glad I have you guys because I have no other family. None

    Race, and gender, and sexuality aren’t meant to make you a target but being a queer woman of colour I can’t help but feel like there’s no space for me in this world. I know people who lost people and it all just feels so close. Too close and I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how to process

  19. The first thing I read when I opened my phone yesterday morning was the news from Orlando. I had so much I wanted to get done yesterday, but reading the coverage all morning just made me so exhausted, and sad and ANGRY. So instead I crawled back in bed with a book and didn’t leave until I had to get to a meeting at 7pm.

    After the meeting was over, I came right home, got back in my pajamas, and watched the Tony’s. That made me feel somewhat better. But then Barbra Streisand started talking about how art can comfort and console us, and it made me think about the Bury Your Gays trope, and how we can’t even turn to some of our favourite art for comfort and consolation anymore, because it’s just too real. And just, this tragedy after all the fictional tragedy we’ve already been through this year just felt like way too much to deal with.

    Needless to say, I’ve done very little work at the office today.

    • I watched the Tonys too and a lot of it made me sad because of how real it felt (some of the lyrics to Yorktown in particular) but all of those songs about resilience made me feel better (“If You Knew My Story,” which I’d never heard before) and made me want to do some writing about resilience to console myself. So I guess what I believe is that we can and will make better stories.

  20. Yesterday evening my girlfriend, after speaking very little for the entire evening (she’s usually very chatty and exuberant, so it was off kilter) told me she was afraid that the next time I left the house to go out I wouldn’t come back. At the time I told her nothing like that was going to happen, but I knew then and I know now that I can’t actually be sure. I feel impossibly scared and so confused as to how this is the America we live in. I just can’t believe it.

    • Every time I am publicly gay (i.e. every time I am in public, as I’m very very visible), I keep one eye relentlessly scanning my surroundings. No matter if I’m laughing with friends, or my girlfriend’s kissing me, or whatever, I’m never fully there.

      Most days I can handle it, but today I am exhausted.

  21. I’m just heartbroken and scared. I grew up in Tampa, I went to college in Lakeland, so I went to Pulse in Orlando a lot with my theatre friends while in undergrad (2010-2014).

    I haven’t lost anyone personally from this tragedy, but I do have friends who’ve lost people or who still have friends missing. It’s insane. My heart hurts. I just feel so helpless and scared right now.

  22. Today is harder. I don’t know why. Yesterday I was around queer family all day. Today I am at work and it all feels hard. This is the only thing I have processed so far: getting dressed is hard and making breakfast is hard, and talking to people is really hard, and I can’t remember when it felt easy, though I know it did, once.

    The people in my social world are talking about policy and Islamophobia and homophobia and religion, and I want to talk about those things too someday. But today all I can feel is that everything is hard. I’m trying to take time, to be in my body, to give myself permission to be late to things, to walk as slowly as I need for as long as I need. Allow myself to feel the difficulty of it all instead of brushing past it. Allow myself grief so I can continue fighting some day. So I can come back stronger and prouder and more complex than before. So I can keep going.

    • Thank you so much for this comment. I need to keep in mind leaving myself space to be like that is well.

      I’m sorry this is so hard, for all of us. Thank you for sharing, and I know it will get easier. It has to.

    • I’m in a similar state. Yesterday I was surrounded by friends, I got to speak at a vigil and share food and drink and feel connected. Today I’m at my desk in a (happily) supportive workspace but it still feels very different from yesterday. Part of me is grateful do have work to do to help me feel purposeful, and part of me wants to curl up in a friend or lover’s arms all day and not leave the house.

    • Thank you for writing this out. I feel like I should be a voice in this conversation, on Islamophobia and gun control and policy and and and…

      And I just can’t. Not yet. It’s too raw.

      Sending you all the support and warmth.

  23. This has been almost surreal. I found out when a straight cis white dude I worked with told me – I had come into work unawares. And before I could even begin to process, I had to start contesting him for his islamophobic and icreadibly violence response – which made even less sense because he wasn’t affected. Not really.

    I didnt get to truly be hit by it, to process, until after work that evening when I began reading and talking to other loved ones in the community. I live in north Florida, far enough away to note but still… So close, you know?

    I’m still processing today, grieving, and dealing with wooziness at work since I made an appointment to donate blood first. And tonight I’m busing out to the vigil here in Max at Hamburger Marys – I missed the one last night.

    Its, funny, in a weird sad way – I’ve never been to a community event, to pride, been on spaces meant for me and people like me. And o understand for how many people this will keep them put, force them back.

    But the Vigil will be my first step into that space. And almost in a daze, in some almost robotic defiance, I put in time off request for the Pride events here on Jax on October, so I can finally attend.

    I don’t know what to say or how to process this but I know I want to be with community. I want to live and love, not because that’s a radical act, but I will embrace that radical aspect. I won’t let myself be so far from my community anymore. Not right now.

  24. Threads like this are so important. As others have said and surely are experiencing, my family has not reached out to me in any way. I’m at work today and not a single co-worker has even spoken about the shooting, much less shown concern for anyone’s mental well-being. I don’t want to make the attack about me me me, but to not even express general concern or sadness about it… ?! It’s like they live in another universe.

    But despite all that, it’s so vital to remember that we are a living, breathing, vibrant community. Even if everyone physically around us exists in a bubble, even if just online for some of us, we are absolutely not alone.

      • It’s unreal. I’m out at work as well and thankfully rarely experience outright homophobia but the obliviousness is offensive in its own way.

        Thanks for the response. No one should be experiencing this but it somehow helps to know I’m not the only one.

        • I feel you. And I’m pretty tired of straight people who are accepting, even vocal allies in a lot of ways, but also seem utterly incapable of putting themselves in our place.

          When the gay marriage circus was going on here and there were thousands of homophobes in the streets and the airwaves, most of my straight friends couldn’t be fucking bothered to get up on a Saturday morning and come march in favor of the law. “Oh, it’s going to pass anyway.” Gee, thanks. Thousands of people are marching through town, in opposition to ME, personally, but no need to show up and support me because “it’ll work out.”

          It’s been a couple of years now and I’ve only recently realized just how bitter that left me.

          I wasn’t going to invite anyone when I saw the announcement for tonight’s vigil, but decided to try to have a little faith and text a girl who very eagerly went to Pride this weekend. But she had plans to go to the gym. So… priorities. I’m just over here dealing with the worst shooting in American history taking the lives of beautiful members of my community, but cardio is important too, don’t worry.

          Sigh.

          Makes me much more appreciative of the blessing of having people who don’t have to rely on empathy because they share your experience. And makes me more aware of my own shortcomings as an ally to other communities.

      • Same. I had a really hard time answering “How was your weekend?” Before I got to work, I dreaded them asking because it’s so tragic and so person; when I got to work and everyone was blithely cheery, I felt so alone.

  25. Just got home from a vigil here. I’m so sad and scared and I’m so tired of being both of those things.

    A friend asked me a little while ago, is the purpose of the LGBT community to make itself obsolete? I didn’t have an answer then but now, god, yes. We can be obsolete if it means we can also stop dying, stop hurting, stop facing these horrors.

    I no longer know if I can face Pride again this year, even though I’m in the UK. I know I should keep fighting but this much sadness and fear is exhausting.

  26. Thank you for this thread. I’m heading to a vigil tonight, and in the meantime: I’m at work feeling sick, angry, on the verge of tears.

    Social media is helpful to an extent, but I own a LGBTQIA+ specific business and have been inundated with well-meaning messages from straight customers + supporters who are basically asking for a crash course education in discrimination and why LGBTQIA+ representation matters. Like, y’all. I’m over here sobbing on the couch / trying not to cry at work. I know people are well meaning, but seriously. I’m in no place to help you with LGBTQIA+ 101 right now.

    <3

  27. this space is beautiful. i’m so so so sad and don’t know how to be this sad and like keep going on every single day? like everything feels terrible right now. but i am also so so so so grateful to like be working with this particular community of queer women who make room for sadness in everyday life and don’t try and make you get over things before you’re ready. super grateful to get to be internet surrounded by y’all right now

  28. I had a horrible sleep last night, and today I just feel so sad. It’s really hard to get any work done. I feel anger, hurt, frustration, feeling like I can’t breathe sometimes. I’m not out and I struggle a lot with loving myself and I’m trying not to be fearful. My thoughts are with everyone struggling from this tragedy <3

    • I can’t imagine feeling this and still being closeted and afraid too. All my love and support, I wish you strength and luck finding or making a community that appreciates you for everything you are.

  29. I’ve been drifting between feeling the need to connect with people and feeling like everyone is yelling, even when I agree with what they’re saying. Then today I got into some weird argument (on Facebook Messenger of course) with one of my closest friends; when we’ve been supporting each other a lot lately and especially since yesterday. I told them I need their friendship more than I need to make my points in or “win” that weird conversation. I think I’m going to buy some olives and spices at the Lebanese grocery store nearby rather than draining my emotional energy on the internet . . .

  30. I’ve never commented on anything before, and I’m sad that this is what is motivating my first comment, but am simultaneously very grateful for this thread. I want to find a vigil in my area but there aren’t any nearby according to the site posted yesterday. It’s weird because I’m in the Bay Area, which should theoretically should be super queer friendly and open but most of my queer fam is in Los Angeles so I’m feeling pretty lost and anchorless. I’m from UCLA so our own shooting happened so recently and I’m so so afraid of becoming numb. I don’t want to become accustomed to violence but feeling all these feelings is painful and hard and sometimes it’s just easier to shut down.

    I’m trying to write a paper about race/gender/violence and it’s a little too real rn. Struggling to not disassociate but also not break down completely.

    Thanks for letting me share <3

    • <3 I understand the urge to just turn off.

      As a teacher, we can talk a harsh game about deadlines, but we are also human and can understand exceptional circumstances. if writing that paper is too much right now, maybe try to contact the professor and inquire about a delay or change of topic?

      Sending love your way.

      • Thank you for the advice. This is unfortunately already an extension because of the shooting at the UCLA campus last week. I appreciate your thoughts though. If it too difficult to finish this week I may ask for another extension. <3 Thanks again

    • Like Rachel suggested: always feel free to message professors about it. I used to teach undergrad (gender/sexuality/race/tech class) and this would be a 110% “I will work with you” scenario.

  31. I keep crying and I, like others in this thread, didn’t know that this could affect me so much. I have felt a bit de-sensitized and removed from other mass shootings that have happened in our country and around the world, but I can’t shake this one and I’m letting myself feel every bit of it.

    Yesterday, I felt selfish about feeling anything because I wasn’t there and I don’t know anyone who was there. Today, it’s even harder. I dreamt last night that I was in the club with my friends before the shooting started and I knew that we had to leave.

    I’m trying not to make this personal, but it feels personal. I hugged my wife a little tighter last night and this morning.

    • This is how I felt as well. It is sad that I have felt so removed from the other mass shooting events that have happened. But this. I just feel like crying. I didn’t personally know anyone involved, and it has been years since I went out to clubs. But still. These people are my brothers and sisters. This is personal. This is about no longer feeling safe to congregate in a space where we all have felt safe before.

    • Agree with you 100%. The cover of the Orlando Sentinel has a photo of two seemingly white people embracing and while we all have an absolute right to grieve no matter race or any other identifier, and the image itself is heartbreaking, it feels shortsighted. It was called Latin Night at the club and the majority were, as you said, people of color. That should be emphasized and remembered, not ignored or shoved to the side.

  32. Thanks for this. My coworkers are well-meaning but clueless straights, so I’ve just been crying quietly at my desk all morning.

    My city had two vigils, and unfortunately the one I went to was short and not solemn. Which is a fine response, but I really wanted to join in some public grieving. Also I went with a straight friend who is a true ally who did everything right, but it still felt like his presence was holding me back from fully joining my community.

    Other than the vigil, my main response has been arguing on FB with my cousin who said it’s “not time to get political,” and his friend who explained to me that I just don’t understand Islamic terrorism, and this isn’t a hate crime, this could happen to anyone brave enough to stand up to Islamic terrorism. Spoiler alert: this FB comment flameup didn’t change anything.

    Tl;dr: I’ve been crying quietly by myself for a while. Thanks for being here AS.

  33. Grateful for this. Woke up today to texts from someone I used to be close to, reaching out because distance doesn’t matter in times like these. I appreciated that, but still just feel gutted. Went to a violence prevention training today at work, and before things got started, everyone was talking about their fun weekends and asking me what I did, and all I could say was that I spent it trying to process the Orlando shooting. The facilitator of the training briefly acknowledged the shooting before starting the program, but did not include the words “gay” or “lesbian” or “bisexual” or “trans” or “queer” at all. I felt so invisible sitting there, in the wake of a tragedy that literally rendered so many nonexistent. I left the training early. Now I am in my apartment, and I feel simultaneously restless and immobile.

  34. good morning junebugs. yesterday was not good and today is not good and i’m sorry. but i’m so grateful you all are here.

    i know we’re sad and i’m glad that there is space for that here. personally after years of being scared i am feeling like i am ready to get angry. i hope it’s a helpful, constructive, sustaining anger that gives me energy to fight for peace and safety and existing unapologetically.

    i don’t really know where to start so for now it’s about continuing to connect with the right people with an open heart and mind, like i was able to do at camp. it’s about seeing if i qualify to give blood, because blood is always needed everywhere, not just in orlando. and it’s about learning as much as I can about the history of gun ownership here and abroad so when i say #fuckyourguns I can back it up with facts.

    so much <3 to my AS family. please take care in every way you can.

  35. I just have now words. All I know is that my heart feels broken. My family and friends are well-intentioned and sympathetic, but they just don’t feel this in their souls like I do. I don’t have any queer friends to go be with and cry with and hurt with, so I’m extra thankful for all you folks today.

  36. Luckily(?) I haven’t gone into work yet because I have a flat tire. And I’m procrastinating getting it fixed so I can purposely cut my shift short to avoid the conversation people will inevitably want to have with me since I’m the only queer some of these people know.

  37. I was at my little brother’s high school graduation yesterday with my fiancee and the rest of my family, so I couldn’t cry the way I wanted to. I nearly did a few times. Watching my brother, who is bi, and his friends, many of whom are queer, get their diplomas… they’re going off to college and to jobs and new opportunities and big changes, maybe to discover gay clubs and fellow queer people beyond our tiny little hometown. But on the same day, this happened. One of the graduates addressed the class, saying that their graduation is like a second birth, that yesterday was their shared birthday. Some birthday. Some world to be born into.

    I’m going to the vigil in Northampton, MA on Wednesday, despite living just north of New Haven. I’ve never been to a vigil, but I need this one. That’s where so many of my friends are… that’s where I learned what queer community means. I need to grieve with that community now.

  38. Grief is deep today. I am going through the stages. Cycling through around and around. Trivial thoughts about how short I cut my hair and how my entire being is a facade at best. Scared to go outside and need to use a restroom only to potentially come face to face with someone who wants me dead too. Then realizing….my feelings are nothing compared with those in Orlando today. That living in SoCal gives me such a general safe space while others in Omaha or Mizzola have no such thing. I can’t stop the thoughts though. I am trying to get the will to go out. Find that strength to not put on a skull cap…to not shave my face and to not hide my body under baggy clothes. To put on my binder and face this day as I present each day.
    My wife was much braver yesterday. She went out and saw a movie alone. Instead, I stayed home and dealt with my grief.
    Today, I found something small that I could do to help someone in the world. A library that hasn’t had any new books in it for decades got a new administrator and they are soliciting for books. They are not asking for cash–instead, they are asking for reading materials for the K-12 youngsters. Feel free to check it out: https://throwingchanclas.com/2016/06/07/just-one-book/
    I hope each of you stay in your comfort zone until you are ready to push the boundaries again. And I hope that when you are ready to push those boundaries you do it boldly and with pride.

  39. Hurt like this doesn’t feel real. I don’t have the ability to wrap my mind around it. I feel like I’m surrounded by plastic people. And they are talking about guns, and religion, and all I want to do is cry. I don’t understand and I don’t know how to understand. I tried to separate. I tried to have the conversations about Islamophobia. I tried to stick up for those who have to bear the burden psychopaths have left them with but my lips have turned to lead, my heart has turned to rubber to soften the pain. I don’t know how it’s possible to function right now. I don’t know where to get the strength. I have never needed you guys more than now. Thank you so much.

  40. I feel so stricken.
    Most of the people at work don’t know that I’m gay, yet, and no one realizes I’m from central Florida either.
    Which is very awkward because I found out in the middle of the night while on call..
    I read that list on buzzfeed stating names and pictures of a few confirmed dead, and it just drove home even more how much family they are.
    How much family we are.
    And having that erased, having homophobes and haters and conservatives use these poor boys and girls who were ripped from life so brutally, for their own, shameful agenda of hate and xenophobia,is filling me with so much outrage and bitterness.
    Trump spat in their faces, for being gay and mostly hispanic during their lives and now he abuses their will, their memory for his own sinister means.
    And everyone tags along.
    This was not an attack on American freedom, not specifically.
    This was a homophobic hate crime, of someone who hated us so much, he went out, bought an assault rifle and went to a gay club during pride week to use it.
    Of someone growing up in such a climate of hate and homophobia and violence that such is possible.
    But that is something that does not get talked about.
    The LA pride thing, does not get talked about.
    We’re relegated back to invisibility, these young men and women and between are “the innocent victims”, like there was ever a debate that they weren’t.
    This is so horrible.
    All of it.

    On a better note, here’s an article about gay clubs as sanctuaries in this context, a part of the discussion we should be having instead: http://www.thenation.com/article/please-dont-stop-the-music/

  41. Having a really hard time feels like an understatement. I have been struggling his last month with managing my mental health, and an reading about what happens in Orlando just gutted me. I’m just trying not to cry at my desk. It all feels so out of control.

  42. Thank you so much for this thread. I have been sort of aimlessly refreshing Autostraddle in hopes that something like it would pop up. I’ve been so scared and lonely. I couldn’t go to the vigil in Amsterdam tonight, because I have to go to my @#^@!*$^* job tomorrow at 5am, and I live with a bunch of straight people… I recognise that I live in a country with gun control, some measure of anti-discrimination laws, as a cis white woman, and as such this really doesn’t have all that much to do with me, but fuck, this is a hate crime, and I feel so unsafe. This morning I had to leave my girlfriend alone in the city and all I could think was “I hope you don’t get murdered”. My first thought when I heard the news was to search sanctuary in the local gay bar, before I remembered that that’s exactly what the victims were doing, and I felt even sadder and more afraid. I feel like we’ve got nowhere to go. And life just goes on around us, I couldn’t even talk to it with my mother and my grandmother today. Nobody straight has been even mentioning it to me. It feels invisible. It feels like we are invisible, like our grief and fear are invisible.

    While the shooting happened, I was just waking up with my girlfriend, enjoying the morning of her birthday party together. A few hours later we got up and read the news. To think that in those last moments of peace, others were having their last moments, period. Jesus.

    • Yeah, this. I’m in Europe too and pretty much nobody has mentioned it IRL. Or if they’ve mentioned it, it’s only been so they can make comments about gun control and the US; nobody has mentioned the fact that it was a hate crime against the LGBTQ community. On Facebook, the only people I’ve seen sharing anything about it have been LGBTQ people.

      I can’t imagine what it’s like for those of you in the US – I’m keeping you all in my thoughts – but I know I feel oddly shaken by the whole thing and have had very little patience for straight people all day.

        • I found out about this on the way to the airport, leaving New York for Europe. All I can think about right now is how much I want to be with my queer friends in the US right now to mourn this. And how I was safely in my lover’s arms when this awful, awful thing happened. The whole Trump thing frightens me more than ever. How someone can respond to tragedy with a “ha, see I was right” attitude to something like this is just so f*cking inhumane and unbelievable, and it makes me scared about where we are headed as a society.
          It also makes me even more grateful for spaces like these, where people genuinely care about each other. Thank you Heather for creating this thread, you are wonderful!

  43. Honestly, I just need this. I’m so grateful that so many of you are feeling the same things that I am because I’ve just been feeling so sad and isolated. I live the next city over from Orlando so this really hit me hard. I had to wake up yesterday and call or text people I know to make sure they were alright. And yet despite this, my actions just felt mechanical because I haven’t been mentally here since I heard.

    I feel like I’m living on autopilot. Like I’m being ripped apart from the inside but I’m also separate from it. I’ve been alternately shaking, crying, getting angry, and feeling nothing at all. I’ve barely eaten or slept because every time I close my eyes I picture scenes I’ve heard about or read about. But I can’t stop looking for information because I’m terrified of finding someone I know was there. I haven’t even left my house since hearing the news.

    When I heard it was Latinx night it terrified me even more because my girlfriend is Cuban and I can’t help but linger on the thought that that could have been her who was killed. The anti-Islamic rhetoric people are spouting feels like a knife in my gut. After all, one of the friends I had to contact is Muslim and I can’t imagine how isolated he feels facing this as both queer and Muslim, particularly since he lives in Orlando and was hit especially hard due to proximity.

    I honestly want nothing more than to hold my girlfriend and never let go. But we’re long distance, all my friends are in other cities, and I’m left to face this alone because my family is only comfortable if they can pretend I’m not actually gay. I’ve had to avoid them because I don’t want to start crying in front of them and have to navigate the minefield that my family creates anytime the word “gay” is mentioned.

  44. Because of some personal life stuff, I was already leaning heavily on my queer community. I was feeling immense gratitude for the abundance of smart, sensitive, rad queer folks in my life. We went camping this weekend and it really highlighted how lucky I am. As we drove back from nature and got cell service the first thing I saw was a friends post regarding the tragedy. It hit so hard, right in the gut. My love and gratitude for y’all was already so big. But it sort of bloomed and is now so all encompassing. I hope y’all feel loved even if you don’t have a physical community. I hope we all continue to be our best selves and live our truths. Sending you all the biggest hug.

  45. Yesterday when I heard the news I was at LA Pride. Maybe 5 minutes later I learned that someone had been arrested with a car full of explosives, heading towards LA Pride. My mom called and asked me to please come home, and I said I would. But I had to sit in my car sobbing for a few minutes before I could drive.

    I spent all of yesterday online, refreshing my social media, watching as the tributes and loss and pain poured in. I cried and cried and cried. But this morning when I woke up I felt like it hadn’t happened, like it was some odd dream that we were all just going to move away from.

    My family has been very supportive, and I have a big queer community online, but I left Pride yesterday so fast that I didn’t get to grieve with any queer people IRL. I don’t have school today but I do tomorrow, and I just want to hold someone and cry together.

  46. Hi, I’m new. Like, new new. My ex-bf and I broke up last month and I decided that was my cue to explore my queer feelings, and also consider moving back to the US from abroad. So this is the first Pride month where I’m reaching out to meetup groups and the like and start connecting with the queer community, and start dating women perhaps after my heart’s healed more from my breakup.

    and now this. It makes me realize that as much as I’ve berated myself for making it to 30 only having dated men and remaining in a fairly heteronormative bubble, there are reasons. I see the pointed silences among my old friends from school and my family. I see the Bible verses that say “love” but also say “sin.” I realize that my choices have been forged by fear.

    It’s just a lot. Thank you all for being here, for being visible, for making me feel that I can speak with you about this. <3

    • I know. I am sad, too, that this is reminding me, just when I had been growing bolder, that the closets that smother us also protect us, sometimes. I am seldom one for big parties or clubs, but if I were to go to one, it would probably be on a Latin night. It is a chilling thought.

      It makes me question my tentative plans to venture to a Pride parade for the first time ever this month, even though it would be in Sevilla or Madrid, where as far as I know it’s harder to get high-powered guns… right?

      It makes me think twice about what I wear and how I act in public, and wonder whether it’s safer to walk down the street in a dress that makes me feel exposed to the male gaze and catcalls or in button downs and polos that cover more skin but probably make me read as more queer. I don’t have a good answer.

      • Yes, we are both in safer places now, but I expect European pride events to have a lot more security measures now. And a big police presence makes me so nervous. :(

        I guess the only solution is just to be us. I’m sorry you’re going through this too. Especially since you are connected to the queer Latinx community. It’s not lost on me that this, specifically, was the community targeted. <3

  47. I know that bad things happen around the world, and that queer folk are constantly being killed but being an immigrant America has always been the dream for me. So while queer folk are being killed in my birth country, America still felt safe. Now, I don’t know. I just know that the world is choosing not to love us, so we’ll just have to love each other harder, and fiercer until the only hurt we feel is from being pressed so hard against each other.

  48. The past couple of days have been heavy and I think there is expectation for me to have something to say–but I’m so overwhelmed with feeling that I can’t do much thinking and articulating.

    That being said, I’ve gotten to sit and read/listen to the voices of latinx and Muslim
    LGBT people which has felt way more productive than being on Facebook and reading my straight/cis/white friend’s opinions–which has essentially been expressing horror and allyship. But I just want to tell them to step down and loan their stage to other voices.

  49. I’ve been really numb since I first heard. My band played at a Pride festival on Friday night, and I can’t stop with the “What if it had been here?” thoughts.

    I went to a concert last night at an outdoor venue. The security line was extremely long, but the woman who patted me down and searched through my bag was very thorough, and I said thank you to her. I felt infinitely safer than I had all day after I went through that line.

    It hurt to get out of bed this morning and go to work. Everything hurts, I feel like a sack of bricks got tossed on me. And the thing is that I wasn’t even there, I wasn’t even IN this situation. My heart goes out to people who were directly effected. My heart goes out to all of us who weren’t directly effected. I’m sorry our safe spaces are being ripped from us. It’s not right, it’s not fair, and everyone deserves better.

    Love and hugs to you all.

  50. Yesterday I cried on and off all day whilst reading Twitter with my wife. We’re so far away and yet I think because of the time difference we had a lot of the info early on. So it just seemed to keep coming. I was appalled at the lack of coverage from The BBC. Thankful for you guys, for Twitter queer family, and for the guardian for covering it all day on their app as the headline piece-while every where else was covering the Queen’s birthday. Today I went to work, the dayjob is at its hardest point in the year and I made it through the day, barely, to then see some bullshit on Facebook from a friend of my mothers who also happens to be a client and I just broke again. One of my former students is proving to be an amazing ally on social media and I am so proud of her that it’s making me cry again. Thank you for being here Straddlers and staff. I needed this space so much today.
    There’s so much more I can’t articulate. But I am sending so much love to our community and hugs for those who want them.

  51. I work in a place where I’m surrounded by conservative cis white males and is very hard to be here at the moment. I’m from Toronto and I have queer Muslim friends who are deeply saddened and hurt by this tragedy and I worry about them, I would hate to think that a stupid homophobe/islamophobe might harm them. We are on the verge of pride and a lot of peolple of the community are afraid and are thinking about not celebrating pride altogether.
    All these things are going through my head at the moment and I have to sit at work and tolerate the mindless golf and fishing chatter and literally feeling that this people couldn’t give less of a fuck about us.
    Sorry about the rant but at least I think you guys would understand.

  52. My wife and I live about 20 minutes from the Pulse, on the edge of Orlando. On clear nights with the right amount of breeze, we can hear the rumble-pops of fireworks set off every weekend by the theme parks; sometimes they catch me off guard and I think ‘gunshot!’ even though the sounds aren’t that similar. I’m afraid for the coming weekend, because I know every indistinct boom is going to start the panic attacks all over again.

    We’ve never been inside a queer bar or club though we’ve been together and out for nearly 11 years. It’s mostly because neither of us drink or dance, we both have anxiety, and we have no queer friends to teach us the ropes. We only just moved back to Florida after many years in Kansas, and we’re still adjusting to getting to see other queer couples hold hands in public – public!! where cis hets can see you!! – let alone the reality that whenever we’re ready, we can step into a thriving community of fellow queer folks. We’ll be going out this weekend or perhaps the next, however, because it’s past time to be with *our people* outside of the glorious gift of my phone and laptop.

    It’s ironic, but on Saturday I was singing Orlando’s praises to my parent because my wife and I are able to hold hands and share a quick kiss in public, which we often do when at Universal, because it just feels so much safer than Kansas. We’re both white, which affords us a lot of safety/privilege, and the Orlando area does have a long history of anti-queer violence, but just being able to hold hands and have it go largely unremarked has been… breath-taking and emotional for us. I started to forget, I think, that fear and Mad-Eye Moody levels of CONSTANT VIGILANCE are just a part of our lives.

    I got giddy and foolish. I thought that finally being able to be legally married and being able to be blatantly affectionate with my wife meant it was getting better. Even with bathroom bills and the like threatening friends and, perhaps, future me if my ongoing gender journey results in a definitive change of identity… even with my wife quitting her first job after moving to Florida because her new boss told her to keep her relationship “on the down-low” because it might make coworkers agitated… even lacking legal protections almost across the board… even with every queer character I love in shows and comics getting killed or sidelined… even with all the hate laws and media ignorance and violence and suicide rates, I thought, I’m okay. I’m doing better. I see a future now. We’re at the middle of the ladder, and we’re just climbing up these rungs, and we’re going to reach the top within my lifetime.

    I forgot about the ladder being rigged from the start. *Especially* for queer people of color.

    I’ve been camped out on Buzzfeed’s article on the people murdered what feels like minutes ago instead of hours and hours, refreshing it every few minutes to see new faces, read new sorrows. I want to know their names. I want to see the achingly human touches to their Facebook-pillaged selfies, the cell phone covers they used or the filters they loved or the people they’d been pressed cheek-to-cheek with, seeing who was stolen from their friends and family. I need to see, and remember.

    I’ve heard the phrase “we go to Pride because they can’t” many times over the years. I’ve never lacked reasons to celebrate who I am and what I’ve survived over the years with my wife, but every time I refresh this article, I see so many more.

    I am so, so fucking sorry.

  53. My partner and I had the really awful experience of attending a vigil yesterday which was run by an organization that was basically trying to promote itself throughout, not to provide services or anything, just to advertise. They run our Pride festival and started charging entry fees a few years ago. They spent a good chunk of their speaking time congratulating themselves for having a vigil. All the speakers who were not members of their board of directors were politicians or their assistants, who came across as trying to capitalize politically rather than offering any clear direction, support, or even emotional investment. No one even mentioned fundraising for victims and families of the attack. All but one speaker was white, all but one was male, all appeared to be over 50.

    My partner and I spent the day torn up about this, tearful, hurting, afraid. To see my local Gay Industrial Complex ™ capitalizing on this was just sickening. We felt slimed. We felt more alone afterward than we had before we came.

    Also: going back to work is so hard today. I didn’t sleep much the last 2 nights.

  54. I love you all so much. It means the world to me to know that I am not alone, that I will always have a home here at Autostraddle. This was the first queer space, online or in person, that I discovered when I realized I was gay and this will always be the first place I turn to when I need to feel safe, to feel ok. Please take care of yourselves. So much love to you all.

  55. No one in my family or any straight people have gotten in touch with me, and that cuts deep. Total silence in my inbox or at my workplace – a school, nonetheless – like this is another day.
    I remember how a few years ago as a teenager I used to be carelessly visible with my girlfriend, homophobic hecklers like water off a duck’s back because we were in love, too young and optimistic to not to be confident that an era without fear would be coming soon. That seems so far away.

  56. Thank you for this thread. I’m thousands of miles away from Orlando, but I can’t seem to stop thinking about how this could have happened in my home city. I was horrified initially, but now my heart just feels despondent and heavy. The straight folks in my life are well meaning and are trying to “help” by claiming that the knowledge that Pulse is an LGBT nightclub is purely coincidental but I know they are trying to distance themselves from the fact that this was a hate crime. One thing that is certain is that we will come through this with resilience and love. If you’re feeling like you have no queer friends or chosen family to talk with about this, we’re here for you, and I promise we love you.

  57. I feel like this whole thing has just made me so much more scared. I feel like I’m having flashbacks to just after I came out.

    I’m usually good at holding my partner’s hand, being out and not being awkward or apologetic about it. Even if people yell at us or something, I tell myself that we’ll survive and that I’m experienced overwhelming support from most people in my life and those people are just hateful losers who should be ignored. But Saturday night just brought home how dangerous those people are and reminded me of how many people still hate us. It’s sad and frightening to think about.

    It makes me sad to think of the survivors who were there with their chosen families and have now lost their support network. I hope we as a queer community are ready to support them and that we don’t lose even more people than the killer took from us.

  58. The first headline I saw, I knew it hurt like all get out. The more I read, the more the day went on, I felt heavy and tired and scared and sick like so many people on here, and I gave my cat many kisses and hugs. Today at work has been difficult. Trying to come to terms with everything I’m feeling while fielding questions and ignorant commentary from people all day has made it ten times worse. There are no vigils here where I am, and the community here is very small. It has been difficult at work to be two breaths away from crying at any given moment knowing that people will look at me and ask a million questions. I am out and outspoken, and people will say the most awful things in front of me or to me. I want to go home and light my candle and eat a cookie.

    I am glad this is here. I am glad you all can understand.

  59. This has just been a bad, hard weekend. I’ll probably go to a vigil tonight, and I’m planning on spending time with one or both of my siblings who are both queer. It hurts but so much but it just doesn’t seem real, that this is a real thing that could happen in our country today.

    But honestly, the thing that’s hitting me harder is the accident that happened in the state park I used to run in and the current body recovery efforts that are underway; one of the bodies has been recovered and I had several friends who were involved in that effort (and I worry about how they’re coping because body recoveries are always hard, but this is a body recovery for a child which is especially hard) and had I still been working there I would have likely gotten the call as well to come in for the rescue/recovery, and I feel weird and guilty that I’m relieved that I wasn’t in position to get that call.

  60. It’s so frustrating to me to see people trying to take this conversation and turn it into an attack on Muslims or to try and ignore that it was a gay bar and that it was Latinx night. It keeps happening and I keep getting angry, and I basically can’t get anything done because it keeps happening.

    It’s so scary to realize that could have been me or could have been someone I loved.

  61. I love that this thread is here. Yesterday afternoon I got on the internet and was horrified of what I was reading. I was visiting my family and I shared the news with my mom. Both the Orlando shooting and the man arrested in LA. Her response was basically “and???”. The complete dismissal of something that shook me to my core and has me thinking about my own safety in the extremely conservative area I live was like throwing salt in a wound. It made me feel so insignificant and small so you guys making this thread is amazing and makes me feel so much better about feeling the feelings I’ve have been since yesterday.

  62. Thank you for this. I was trying to focus on work all day today and stay off un-work related sites and social media, but now, in my last half hour at my desk, I see this and am somehow relieved to see how deeply its affected so many others. I am sad, I am scared, I am so so angry and I can’t deal with the commentary I’m hearing. I didn’t expect to be this affected by it, honestly. My work means I’m constantly hearing about structural inequalities and violence and I have to be able to be empathetic but also a bit distanced and analytical… I’m not managing that this time.
    A friend reached out on FB today, and it made me cry but made me feel so much better. Thank you for the community here, and reach out to your friends and aquaintances today folx, even if you don’t know what to say.

  63. Thank you for this thread. I’m devastated. I keep hearing more stories of victims, of couples where only one partner survived, and feel this gaping hole in my chest. I can’t begin to picture that kind of loss.

    I kissed my partner goodbye this morning as she went off to work, and the rainbow pin that has lived on her bag for years caught my eye. I whispered “Stay safe” and we both started crying again.

    It’s so much to carry. Unimaginable horror. I’m trying to focus on the stories of the victims, I want to see their faces and hear the voices of survivors and loved ones. Every time I see a new face it sends me reeling again. All such beautiful souls.

    Thank you again for the space here. Sending love to our inextinguishable family.

  64. Two days ago, I spent all afternoon hanging out with another of my trans friends and sharing our favorite music/bands back and forth. I feel like tonight I’m going to revisit that music list and try to let the voices of LGBTQ+ musicians soothe me.

    Is there music other people have put on repeat today, to help yourself mourn or heal or find a little joy? Are there videos or poems that resonate with you, galvanize you, comfort you? I’d love it if folks could share some recommendations. I want to have the sounds of community around me tonight.

    I’ll probably be starting with all my Mal Blum and B Steady albums, plus PWR BTTM’s tiny desk concert: https://youtu.be/ji-EdRtL9qU

    • Celia Cruz is helping me, but I worry some people might find the 2 two songs offensive even if they fit.

      Yo Viviré is an adaptation of I Will Survive but it’s not about a person recovering from a toxic romantic relationship. Celia’s adaptation is about her music, the music of her people surviving. About her surviving in the music and her azúcar (sugar)

      I adapted the last line of the song:
      “Yo viviré, yo viviré, yo viviré y sobreviviré”

      into

      “Juntos nosotrxs viviremos, nosotrxs viviremos y sobreviviremos” yesterday and it basically means Together we will live, we will live and survive.

      Also in the Yo Viviré it’s about mourning friends lost, Celia Cruz is Cuban and she fled Castro’s regime, and them being found in the music. A part of them surviving in the music too.

      It’s not a finger in the eye of the dead, but a proclamation we live in each other and survive in on another no matter what happens.

      [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bRID6bN71dY&w=420&h=315%5D

      And then there’s La Vida es un Carnaval
      but I really think that one might be upsetting because it proclaims not all of life is ‘bad’ but uh desigual is unequal and life is not equal.
      Where I take inspiration in the song is “Que la vida es una hermosura, hay que vivirla” or roughly “Life is beautiful, it needs to be lived” and I take it as live for those who cannot.
      Dance and sing don’t only grieve for the lost ones.
      It fits to me because we get killed for being ourselves but that isn’t going to stop us from being and the best revenge is existing and existing with volume.

      [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0nBFWzpWXuM&w=420&h=315%5D

      *TW*
      I take inspiration in this one mostly because my sibling, I refuse to name him brother, tried to (sorry if this is upsetting but TW last chance)





      strangle me to death because I talked back to him and years after this when we were no longer a part of the same household, but in the same place and I try to speak he would shout at me, “Shut the fuck up”. It’s gotten better, he stil doesn’t see me as a person but now at least he doesn’t say anything to me if we happen to be in the same place.
      So now that have started singing again and picked it up as spiritual practice as well the line “Es más bello vivir cantando” resonates very strongly for me because I’m supposed to be dead. Silenced at the hands of a teenage boy, but instead I live and sing and mourn for those who were silenced.

  65. I am really thankful for this space! I am very desensitized to events like this, but this one is really scary and is affecting me. It could have been anywhere and it could have been people I knew. Our community is small.
    I hope that everyone has someone to lean on and space for your feelings.
    I’m glad that some friends and I had already planned to have a soup night tonight. I need to put my energy into making tomato soup for them. I need to put my energy into being around my small lovely feminist circle here. <3

  66. I the Autostraddle community so much. If you are reading this, I want you to know that I love and support you. Autostraddle helped me come out to myself as Bisexual over the past year. I’m feeling a lot of emotions right now. I just read about Kimberly “KJ” Morris…

  67. I had no power yesterday, and did not hear about Orlando until I jumped on Facebook after breakfast this morning. So many feelings, joy for the future lost for so many in ways large and small. My minor senses of the kiss on the corner (yesterday’s kiss on the corner, queer + interfaith + interracial) just got a bit more political and a touch less “glad to see you, darling” which seems so unimportant in the scale of things but I feel like I’ve worked so hard for that sense of safety in our joy and don’t want to lose an ounce of it. And now there’s more reason for fear of safety in queer communities and empathy. And, of course, the grief felt by far, far too many families with dead and injured people. All of whom should be celebrating life’s pleasures and milestones with their beloved partners, brothers, sons, sisters, daughters, parents, and children. I can’t even comment on Facebook. Can’t… string words together.

  68. I think, miraculously, until now I have lived without being afraid.
    Today is the first time I thought that maybe being straight would have been better. I feel so guilty for thinking that, but it’s so damn unfair.
    I’m scared and I don’t want to be and I’m so angry at the world.
    I’m so grateful for the love and compassion this community has, fills spaces with, virtual and real. I feel like there are millions of people holding my hand – we have to help each other be brave.

  69. I’m glad you opened up this thread. Work has been weird today. I had a co-worker who complained about a bad trip to Whataburger for most of the day, and I was just thinking, “Is that really the most upsetting thing happening in your life right now?” All my interactions seem to be magnifying how alienating it is to live as a lesbian woman in a hetero world. This is just a news headline to so many other people, something they may have glanced at in Facebooks trending topics.

    And as hurt as I feel by this, I can’t imagine how it must feel for LGBT PoC.

    It might be beneficial to stay away from the news right now, but I keep getting pulled back in. I feel like I need to read as much as I can about this in order to understand it better, but I really don’t think it’s been helping.

  70. It was so terrible waking up on Sunday morning to learn the news. I had gone out on Saturday night to a gay pride party in DC. When I was in the theatre for the event, I turned to my girlfriend and said, “What if someone came in here right now with a gun? We would all be dead.” Then I woke up to find out that this premonition I had had come true, only in Miami. I am so devastated and scared.

    I know that we are supposed to be brave when things like this happen. Keep going out, keep fighting for our rights. But I am so scared. And so sad. Straight people at work don’t even seem fazed by this at all. Meanwhile I can hardly speak and have been crying throughout the day.

    Sending my prayers to all the victims and our whole community and especially QPOC. I love you all.

  71. Thank you for this. I’m so grateful for the Autostraddle community.

    When events like this I usually stay to myself and cry in my room. This time I allowed to cry in front of my mom who gave me the biggest hug. We didn’t say anything to each other but I have a feeling she knows that it could’ve easily been me.

    It really breaks my heart to read the names of the victims. I just..I don’t know, but I’m virtually showering all of you with lots n lots of love. <3

  72. Ever since I heard the news Ive felt a combination of fear and sadness that’s left me sick to my stomach. I went in to work expecting everyone to be talking about it and no one was. meanwhile I keep fighting the urge to cry every time it hits me again how horrific this attack against our community was. I’m not involved in my local queer community but I’ll be attending a vigil tomorrow. This thread has helped me realize how much I need to be around and communicate with people who really get it.

  73. sad, sad, sad. not numb, not scared, just really sad.

    my mom called me yesterday morning to gossip about family and then texted me today to say oh shit I didn’t realize I’m so sorry and I was like no it’s okay it was good to not just cry and instead be like auntie what is the matter with you.

    guns are the worst. people that murder people are the worst.

    love to yall.

  74. I hate that there is never any time to mourn

    The backlash of racism and hatred and blaming is so immediate, before there is any processing we have to defend against Islamophobia and people intent on erasing the LGBTQ aspect of this and people more willing to pin it on mental illness instead of guns and hatred

    I remember talking about Columbine on the playground in elementary school, thinking that’s so close to my cousins in Colorado Springs

    Virginia Tech, three hours away from my hometown in my homestate, all the Hokies flags alums flew on my street; schools here still fly flags half staff on the anniversary. The moments of silence we had every morning after it happened.

    My adult neighbor went to Sandy Hook elementary and her brother was a first responder there. A restaurant owner in our town responded to the gun control talk that happened in the wake of that massacre by starting “open carry wednesdays”. The state of Virginia responded by loosening already lax gun controls.

    The Aurora movie theater that same year. People tried to blame it all, Sandy Hook, Aurora, on the largely non-violent, often victimized mentally ill. I’d just gotten out of a psych ward. I learned about Sandy Hook during lunch in an outpatient psychiatric hospital day program.

    Learned about the community college in Oregon in the break room at work when I lived in Bend and heard my coworkers equate Obama to Hitler because of his opposition to the NRA

    Every American can measure their life with Where You When’s, with mass shootings

    There are too many

    This one hurt more than the others and I wasn’t really expecting that. There are too many. I wasn’t expecting to feel anything more than exhaustion.

    But we all just came off a mountain where it was as close to queer utopia as we can get and then this, and during Pride, and it’s too much it’s too much it’s too much

  75. This thread is everything.

    I hail from and currently live on St. Maarten, having just relocated from The Netherlands. My father called me to tell me what had happened and that in itself was touching, because my dad and I have a great relationship but it’s sometimes still awkward to talk about the LGBT community with him. But he understood how sad it was, and truthfully, this touches people miles away from the tragedy. My friend from my days at uni in Miami is safe, but another woman who I only met once and spent a short time with is gone, and my other close university friend (who is straight) is left devastated. The allies in my life have been nothing short of amazing. Our local LGBT organisation is holding a small vigil and discussion evening tomorrow to allow people room to talk about how this makes them feel, and other LGBT organisations from other Caribbean islands are doing the same. We’ve all been in what we consider safe spaces for ourselves and know that sometimes irrational fear that something bad may happen, but the key here is to know that we are not alone, even in our small countries, and we must keep fighting. With you all in spirit and mind.

  76. I wasn’t expecting these emotions and it’s like two different fears

    The fears related to our reality as Americans that no place is safe from a mass shooting, that nothing is sacred

    (practicing lock down after lock down in fourth grade, sitting in the middle school parking lot and waiting for busses to take us home safe when a fake bomb threat was called into my high school)

    (“did you know they designed the library and auditorium and lunch room with multiple exits because of Columbine?”)

    And the fears related to being LGBTQ in a country where it’s still not safe for us

    Overlapped yesterday, and magnified eachother, and it was / is a punch in the gut

  77. My father had the nerve to tell me that it wasn’t a hate crime towards my community, that it wasn’t homophobia, that surely he could’ve chosen a movie theater instead, that he just wanted to shoot as many people as possible –

    And I’m just so, so tired.

    Sending all my love to everyone here.

    • I’m sorry you had this experience with your father. Even if this savage act was intended mainly to kill many Americans to placate foreign extremists,that he didn’t just choice a movie theater, that he did choice a gay club as his target – can’t be a coincidence. It can’t be understand that certain people singled out. Anyone could be a victim of this kind of crime it’s true, but some of us truly are more likely to be targets than others because of what we are and if your in at least one such category…it hits much deeper.

      It’s been hard to no what else to say, but I felt the need to say something. Even if I’m not in group that’s been part of a persecuted culture, I am in too others (Jewish and disabled). Yet even that doesn’t mean you know what to say when your only connection to the community as a few friends and family members.

      Stay together and be strong y’all.

  78. It hurts knowing that so many people are grieving and hurting right now. The same people who make A Camp feel like the safest space I’ve ever been in. Collectively we create that safe space. Knowing that many of us don’t feel safe right now is so painful.

    • exactly!! this!! I just CANNOT cope right now with people complaining about division and telling me that me wanting a space to voice my anger was “problematic” and that I should not shut off the conversation bc it wasn’t my right to “decide what this is about” oh my fucking God I cannot believe this. They just crawl out of their holes and give me their “opinions” that I did not call for and I am so angry and helpless

  79. Thank you for this space; I’m not ready for most of the Internet yet and I’m so grateful for this corner.

    I’ve read through everyone’s comments and if it weren’t a tremendous breach of Internet etiquette, I’d reply to every last one of them just to say that I love you, and I see you, and I’m holding you in my heart with the rest of our family.

  80. To echo everyone above me, thank you for providing this safe space to grieve and heal with our chosen family.

    I’m from Orlando and having a difficult time processing. My city is now just a name on a too-long list, forever to be associated with terror and a massacre. Any illusion of safety for our queer community, and most especially for our queer Latinx community, is gone and my heart is heavy.

    I’ve grieved before, for acts of terror all around the world. I’ve cried before for hate crimes. But this is different. I wasn’t expecting it. I didn’t know how different it would be, and part of me feels guilty for that, because people are people and shouldn’t I grieve them all the same?

    But this is my community. These are my lgbt brothers and sisters. These are my people and it hurts.

    I’m only semi-out and have no queer family to be with in person at this time. Thank you all for sharing your experiences. You’ve made me feel less alone and I’m more grateful than I can express for that. <3

  81. The first thing I saw when I got on FB yesterday morning was that an acquaintance I did theater with who’d been in the hospital for several days had passed away during the night. I only met her about a year ago and didn’t know her very well, but she was one of those people who it was always a joy to be around. Then a few hours later, I saw the news about Orlando. My feed has been almost entirely posts about one of those things for the past day and I’m basically avoiding going on FB at the moment because I just don’t think I can deal with thinking about either of them. (Probably not very healthy in terms of coping and all that, but oh well.) So many of my queer FB friends/real life acquaintances have been posting about Orlando and I feel like I need to make some kind of post, but I’m also really sad about the passing of this person that I knew and I don’t know how to articulate both of those feelings, plus it feels disrespectful in some way to combine them, even though for me personally hearing about Orlando would have been definitely less sucky if I hadn’t already gotten that news. Reading other people’s comments has also made me realize that I really wish my queer friends were around me right now – I wish I could talk this over with people but all of the friends I’d want to discuss it with are scattered across the country. I’m sort of dreading if one of my parents tries to actually talk about it with me because they do pretty well with the whole gay thing but sometimes don’t get how the little things can matter (the other day discussing weddings my mom said “the bride and the groom” and when I corrected her to “or two brides! or two grooms!” she just said “you know what I meant” rather than acknowledging that like, maybe her queer daughter would like to talk about weddings in a less heteronormative way). I’m getting off topic, but basically thanks for giving me the space to type out these thoughts.

  82. i’m scared and anxious and i barely got out of bed today and right now i’m crying and shaking on the floor of the bathroom at work.
    one of the students i’m tutoring is a frat bro from the midwest and he showed up in an NRA hoodie and he isn’t even wearing it ironically he called it badass and i want to vomit and i also want to throw him into the river and i also want a hug and i want to feel like i’m not alone

    i’m sorry i’m just a total mess right now

  83. The shooting hit very close to home. I live here in Orlando and frequently go downtown. I am so heartbroken for my city and for my LGBT community. Yesterday I came out to my very conservative/ religious parents and it was the hardest thing that I have ever had to do. The tragedy pushed me over the edge to coming out. I didn’t want to be an imposter anymore. Prayers and thoughts and so much love to everyone hurting right now.

    -Chelsea

  84. Thank you, thank you, thank you for this thread <3 I've spent yesterday and today waffling between forced cheer and immense sadness and anger. My girlfriend and I have been comforting each other back and forth via text, but I feel like I can't stop talking about this, can't stop processing it over and over again. I wish I was able to make it to the Stonewall vigil tonight; Pride next weekend will just have to do. Sending everyone all the love and hugs and healing possible right now.

  85. This event has made me feel angry. Angry for queer, people of color who are just trying to live in a society that is based on dehumanizing them. This is not the largest mass shooting in U.S. history. During the Wounded Knee Massacre our government shot and killed 300 Native people. Our government and this country is founded on the destruction of people of color. Why does our government express shock about violence against people of color when that is what they promote through policing, prisons, etc. I am angry that someone did this, but I am angry at our government for not acknowledging the fact that this violence is rooted in the start of this country. We excuse violence by white people as “self defense” while police officers kill black youth in the streets. And then we are surprised when killings like this continue to happen? The hypocrisy makes me livid.

    • This is exactly what I thought of, when they were talking about largest mass shootings. I thought, America was founded when guns were being used to take land from indigenous people. I feel like because guns have been used so often against people of color, and gun control would mean less gun violence against people of color, that gun control opinions are a litmus test for racism.

      I don’t think gun control will do it all, there is a lot of hatred promoted in this country, but it would help.

  86. I’ve been feeling so down today, I can’t digest what happened in Orlando and I can’t stop picturing myself in that club because I have been going to my local gay clubs since I came out – it’s where I felt safe. Straight people don’t get this. I felt safe and free on that place where they played all the music that’s catalogued as a “guilty pleasure” everywhere else, seeing familiar faces every weekend and feeling like I belonged every weekend. As much as I try I can’t fathom feeling like those walls aren’t safe anymore. If I can’t process this I don’t know how people from Orlando can. It is a tragedy of a magnitude that I honestly FAIL to see what’s the issue with media and people who KEEP insisting in the we are all the same in regards of covering this issue as a non LGBT issue. We are not the same. The first proof of this is that idk about you but in my Facebook feed not a solitary fuck was given about this by straight people, and I don’t have randoms on Facebook, I have friends. I thank all the gays I have raging and crying and venting about this because without them I would have felt more alone. I don’t think any of my friends think of gay people as second class citizens, but maybe unconsciously they do, or maybe they just see us as other, and as such, they don’t feel as close to this issue as they did with Paris’ terrorist attacks. For some reason this was either a crazy with a gun or a member of the Daesh but the fact the target was a packed gay club during Pride month is too uncomfortable to recognize. Is this my fault for thinking the people close to me were better? Did I ask for too much?

    Fuck this, fuck everyone. We only have each other and we have to fight because no one will do that for us.

  87. This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending the Philly Trans Health Conference. At the conference a mother came up to our table, desperate for resources and information on policies for her trans daughter. They live in NC and her daughter has been so traumatized by her experiences that she no longer leaves the house. She was too terrified to even attend the conference. We gave her what information we had and pointed her in the direction of people with knowledge more tailored to her needs. I felt sad at the situation, but hopeful, glad that this young woman had such a wonderful parent in her corner.
    We found out about the Orlando shooting on the drive home the next day.
    I keep thinking about that, about that kid whose mother wanted so much to help her, about what she must be thinking and feeling as she watched this horror unfold on TV. What are we supposed to say to our youth in the face of something like this? How are we supposed to convince them that it is okay to engage with the world as they are when we aren’t even safe in our own spaces?
    We got home in time for our city’s vigil. It was hard not to notice uniformed police officers standing in the periphery. About halfway through it a man walked up from behind to stand beside me, and I found myself looking him over, checking to see if it looked like a gun could be hiding in his bag. I would be lying if I said I haven’t wondered if I should go to pride this year. This has affected me so profoundly I just don’t understand the deafening silence from my straight friends and allies. My parents haven’t contacted me. The news keeps sweeping the homophobia under the rug. It’s enough to make me think I’m going crazy. So, thank you for starting this post. I’ve been a bit of a wreck, and it’s nice to feel solidarity with members of the community and hear everyone else’s thoughts. I guess we just have to try and hold each other up and keep moving forward.

  88. I have been upset all day. I cant focus. I have noticed my classmates said nothing to me today about this – in the past they have questioned my sexuality and have told me things like “its not normal”…well I say to anyone who has ever said to me – is it normal to shoot and kill people? What is more normal? Living in hate or love?

  89. Thank you for providing this space.

    I live in Kissimmee, which is in the greater Orlando area. Throughout my life, I have felt sorrow during other mass shootings and terrorist attacks, but I’m ashamed to say I took comfort in the knowledge that they happened so far away. The sorrow is deeper now and there is no comfort. I don’t know any of the victims personally, but I know at least one person who lost friends yesterday. And as a queer trans woman who is also Puerto Rican (though with white passing privilege), sharing identities with those lives lost makes this personal. This hurts and I’m terrified about my future.

    I feel guilty about writing all these feelings instead of being out there and supporting my community at a vigil or rally. But fear is keeping me here in my room today. Only my room feels safe, away from indifferent coworkers, hateful relatives and bigots that would do me harm.

  90. I feel really pulled between wanting to share over and over that this is hate crime against our community and is born of the same bigoted ideology of the far right and to try to make people listen to me, but when I see the rainbow flag being used with words like ‘Orlando Strong’ I get a sick feeling. It is a straight washing of the whole thing, all of a sudden our lives matter? It makes me even madder and I want to keep our grief among us.

    It is so easy for people to claim that they are in solidarity in this kind of tragedy, when the majority could care less on a daily basis, and it becomes more about co-opting grief to make their lives seem more important. And then my mind sinks deeper and I think ‘do people actually enjoy it when these things happen, so they can feel like they are surviving and their lives matter?’ I find that the US has created an entire sick melodrama out of these shootings that terrifies me because it seems divorced from the reality of what has happened and is also insulting to the families of victims. So while I want people to recognize that this was a hate crime, to acknowledge where it stems from, they don’t get to all of a sudden march alongside us when they were never there before.

  91. I moved to Orlando for college and lived there for 7 years (2000-2007). Orlando is where I found myself and my community. Orlando is why drag is such a huge part of my life. Clubs like Pulse, Southern Nights and Parliament House were sanctuaries for me and my friends.

    We found out today that we lost Drew, one of our classmates. The one whose mom was on tv. The one who will be buried next to his partner Juan who was also killed at Pulse. I found out I have friends who were actually there that night and managed to escape. I had a big group FB chat with all my college friends, many of whom are still in Orlando. Today has been harder than yesterday. I’m barely keeping it together at work.

    Ten years ago it would have been me and all my friends at Pulse on a Saturday night, drinking, dancing, watching a drag show. The biggest concern we would’ve had was worrying about whether or not our cars would get towed, or how bad our hangovers would be the next day.

    I’m going to the vigil in LA tonight and then I don’t know what to do with myself. We have lost 50 of our queer brothers and sisters, LGBTQ POCs who were just living their lives. My heart hurts. I love my Autostraddle family all the time but especially right now.

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