The tragic slaughter of 50 GLBTI folk some with their friends and family members in the Pulse nightclub in the early hours of Sunday 12 June cannot, MUST NOT, be allowed to pass unacknowledged.
In a venue that, on so may nights before, was regarded a ‘Safe Space’, a place of sanctuary, away from the threat of violence that GLBTI people face on a daily basis, in public spaces, the sound of gunfire exploded to break the sense of Joy and Celebration that had, until that moment, flooded the Pulse nightclub.
Theories and speculation are still flying around regarding the motives, or the reason, why one man would wish to unleash such horror, such terror, such devastation through an act that can only emanate from hatred blinded to reason. There is no justification that could assuage the pain that is still being experienced, not only by the families of those whose children, brothers, sisters fathers and mothers, uncles, aunts and on through the range of connections, have died. But, there are also those who have survived who are confounded with guilt for the very fact that they have survived; left with the question: WHY?
Bishop Randy Morgan and Apostle Lee Steele have attended the site of this atrocity, reporting that the silence is palpable and that as Abel’s blood called out from the earth, there is the sense of the blood of these victims crying out in an attempt to understand. They have prayed and the Agreement of the Covenant Network has sealed that prayer, for all those who have been affected, amongst the GLBTI community, their families and their supporters there in Orlando; as well as those who have experienced the effect of this action, around the globe. A prayer for comfort, solace and healing Spirit, Soul and Body; with the offer of a shoulder for those who need to seek assistance. That assistance has also includes material help, especially given the US health system and its associated costs.
Perth Western Australia is 12 hours away from Orlando; ostensibly the completely opposite side of the world. From Monday, around the globe, the GLBTI community, their friends and supporters have gathered, in public places, To show a sign of solidarity and to openly grieve for those who have suffered in this attack. Even in Russia, where two young men were arrested by Moscow Police (awaiting charges) and face prosecution, by the Russian authorities, for simply placing a floral tribute to the victims at the gate of the US Embassy, in Moscow. Even here, in Perth, a world away the hundreds that gathered in the Winter night at the Northbridge Arts precinct, the grief has been reported as palpable. As Lee said in the video message: “People should not doubt that those acts have gone un-noticed, by those in Orlando.”
One young man was asked in London: “Why are you acting like you have been hurt personally?” his response sums it up quite well: “I’m hurting, we’re hurting for those who have been attacked, because we’ve always known, and still experience the hurt and the pain!” This sentiment is echoed around the globe and has caused some to remark: “this has helped me to find my tribe.”
While politicians have, for the most part, been public with their condolences in the US and abroad; the majority of comments have been both, on topic and heartfelt; sadly a few have leapt upon the opportunity to use the event as a way to further their attacks upon the GLBTI community. However, they have been howled down as both inappropriate and unseemly.
Apart from those who form parts of the welcoming and affirming movement of churches, around the world, the silence from church leaders to this horrific event has been deafening. Some on the fringe have returned to type, there are those amongst the ‘churched’ who have rejoiced in the shedding of GLBTI blood. There are two ways to respond to this silence:
On one hand, how do you stoop down from a position that has raged and railed against the GLBTI community; demonising, slandering and turning a blind eye to the prolonged bullying and dehumanising of a group of people to be able to offer solace, in a tragedy like this, without exposing your hypocrisy? To do so exposes you to possible ridicule as it demonstrates, to those who have blindly followed your lead, your total lack of integrity. To those who are accustomed to receiving that bigotry and vitriol it may well be accepted, particularly if the need is obviously great. But, it will be received with suspicion; or possibly even with the fear of the very help itself causing further pain; sparking a violent reaction; the response to receiving a sugar coated cyanide pill. Leaving those with their hands extended angry at the reaction, to what they believe to be an offer of help, only to have it thrown back in their face.
On the other hand there are those who will be standing, waiting, expecting those who have enabled this attack, through their vitriol to speak up and accept their responsibility for creating an environment where someone completely oblivious to the “political” gamesmanship being played by these quasi-politicians, has sensed a tacit permission and approval to be able to conduct this kind of behaviour. They are seen to be like Pontius Pilate, washing their hands of all responsibility. These ‘leaders’ are held to be as culpable and complicit, by omitting to take the opportunity to restrain violence; instead often seen to be blaming the victim, rather than the perpetrators of the crime. Dr Martin Luther King Jr. paraphrasing Edmund Burke, said it particularly well, when talking about complacency:
“He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it.”4 April 1967
In so many respects the silence has been far better than much of the “Straight-splaining” that has gone on, either ignoring the fact that it was the GLBTI community that was attacked, or attempting to make the GLBTI aspect conveniently disappear, in an attempt to make it about all Orlandians, or Floridians. But, this has actually backfired on those who have tried to hijack this incident for their own political purposes and properly returned attention to those who were actually attacked.
Open Arms Fellowship continues to stand with the victims and families of those attacked in Orlando, as well as with our sister church Wellspring of Central Florida, headed by Apostle Lee Steele and his partner Dan.
Additionally, for those who have been affected by this tragedy here in Perth itself and are looking for somewhere to find comfort and support Open Arms Fellowship exists, specifically for you. Please come and join us on Sundays at the Northbridge Piazza Community Centre, 1st Floor via the lift, or the stairs, through the glass doors, in behind the big screen in the piazza; cnr Lake and James St Northbridge. 6pm Sundays.
I can always be contacted by telephone on 0405 285 233. Or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For any counselling needs please call Qlife on: 1800 184 527
Lifeline:13 11 14