Question of the Week: June 14th, 2016

This is a space to share reactions to the Orlando nightclub shooting.

Note that many people feel strongly about the tragedy, and I ask that you respect other people’s feelings.  I also encourage people to exercise their right not to participate, if they feel they either aren’t emotionally prepared right now, or feel they cannot be respectful.

One thing I don’t really like about being a blogger is the implicit expectation that I always react to current events, particularly tragedies.  I talk about them in private conversation, but in public I worry that my reactions are non-normative, or even hurtful to others.  I did not have much of a reaction to the shooting, until the next day when I read an article about the victims.  That’s so sad, I don’t know why I did that to myself.

It’s easier to think about the political ramifications.  Even though I’m part of the club-going queer population, it feels less personal that way.  I don’t actually participate in all the public discussion, but listening to it feels like business as usual to me.

About Siggy

Siggy is an ace activist based in the U.S. He is gay gray-A, and has a Ph.D. in physics. He has another blog where he also talks about math, philosophy, godlessness, and social criticism. His other hobbies include board games and origami.
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10 Responses to Question of the Week: June 14th, 2016

  1. queenieofaces says:

    The whole thing hit really close to home for me (especially once the victims’ names were released and I realized how many of them were Latinx, how many of them were Puerto Rican), and I’ve been kind of a mess since Sunday morning. I went to the vigil in Boston yesterday; I’m glad I went even though I wound up crying through the entire thing.

    I don’t know. At this point I’m mostly feeling helpless and sad and scared.

    I feel like I should say something, that people are expecting me to say something, but I don’t have words.

  2. It hit me harder than I expected.

    Whenever there’s a major terrorist attack by someone identified as Muslim, I and most Muslims I know tend to have a complex mix of feelings: sadness and mourning for the victims; anything from anger to despair to hopelessness (often a mix of all three) over extremists hijacking and perverting our religion again; some level of worry or fear over the backlash we know is coming at Muslims; sometimes guilt for having to think about and fear for ourselves and not just about the victims. I was expecting that part, though it doesn’t make it easier to deal with.

    What I didn’t expect is how uniquely complicated it would be for me as a queer Muslim. Watching the two communities (Muslim and LGBTQ) talk about each other as if they’re mutually exclusive and not acknowledging the existence of queer Muslims. Watching people (more often right-wing politicians than members of either community) intentionally erase our existence in order to depict Islam as uniquely homophobic and violent. Seeing how many conservative and traditionalist Muslims have so carefully worded their statements of condemnation to avoid having to talk about or even mention the existence of LGBTQ people – and being glad they at least had the wit or the decency not to say something homophobic and make things even worse. Even in this extreme, some religious homophobes cannot bring themselves to affirm the essential dignity and worth of every single human being as a human being. And some Islamophobes can’t either.

    I feel sliced in two, with people trying to set two essential parts of my identity against each other, and I’m unable to let go of either part and join wholly with the other. It also triggered my feelings about being not queer enough and not Muslim enough, which I have too much emotional baggage around.

    I felt shattered or hollowed out on Sunday, though a straight Muslim friend recognizing that this affected me in a way it didn’t affect her and reaching out helped a lot. I’m doing better today and now just feel helpless and sad and scared, like what Queenie said. I’m trying to focus on amplifying the voices of queer Muslims in online Muslim spaces (primarily Twitter and Tumblr).

  3. Writer Ace says:

    I was a little surprised by how hard it hit me because my day job is literally reading about terrorist attacks, and so I’m in general a bit inured to this kind of stuff (though mental health-wise, I am averaging below my baseline emotionally at the moment, so it’s not a total shock), but it also reminded me of how dissociated I feel from the broader LGBTQ community. I think it’s in large part because I grew up for all intents and purposes straight, and so there are a lot of shared experiences I don’t have (being sexually attracted to girls and feeling like I had to hide it or being ashamed of myself for it, growing up in the closet, experiencing homophobia/biphobia, etc.), but even now I feel kind of uncomfortable associating myself with the LGBTQ community because it feels like I’m trying to be part of something that I’m not. And so I feel kind of like I’m co-opting grief and fear that doesn’t belong to me. But also I’m kind of scared, because I am biromantic and one day I could theoretically be in public with a girl I’m in a relationship with and I’ll have to consider all of this.

  4. tmezpoetry says:

    I was bracing all the rolls of emotion, still am. Sometimes the hardest thing soon after a tragedy is the very slow point of getting to the ‘having processed’ enough to allow lesser sensitivities and more rationale when others are processing in a different way. I could have stepped back and said nothing, I could have been perfect in my responses, I could have waived the love, peace, and forgiveness flag soon after but it wasn’t genuine. And like everyone here, I can accept the genuine processing for ourselves. None of us know how to deal with everything perfectly. But I know that I am trying and am watching so many others try too.

  5. Sennkestra says:

    I’m still not sure how I should be reacting to everything, to be honest.

    On the one hand, hearing the news about it definitely hit home in a way that other recent events like this didn’t. It was in my country, not a foreign country; it hit a community that I am (even if peripherally) a part of that I have close ties to; and on top it, that night also happened to have been the night I had gone out in the Castro (SF’s major lgbt neighborhood and home to most of the big gay clubs) for the first time in months and months, so getting home at like 3am and opening my laptop to see the news of a mass shooting at a gay club just starting to break was a little surreal.

    At the same time though…I feel like I should be feeling more than I am. While in abstract I understand the impact and the magnitude of something like this, I just don’t feel any of the sadness or fear that other people are sharing – I’ve never really been able to empathize with events like this the way other people seem to. I feel like I should say something but at the same time I feel like anything I say would be insincere.

    In some ways what’s getting to me more is the fact that it took less than 24 hours for the outpouring of grief and solidarity to be hijacked as fodder for the ever-present bickering over identity and inclusion/exclusion politics.

  6. Elizabeth says:

    I’ve been pretty overwhelmed by it, and cycling through many different emotions. Especially numb shock, overwhelming sadness, and helplessness. It took a while to sink in since I didn’t find out about it right away, it wasn’t until the next morning that I really heard about it, and I tried to avoid looking at all the details for a while—especially reactions from homophobes/Republicans piling on with hatred and erasure of the victims’ identities and scapegoating all Muslims. Since I don’t live in the city, I didn’t find out about the local vigil until it was already over (typical), but I would’ve gone if I had known.

    It hits too close to home, especially looking at all the names. I grew up in an area that’s heavily Latinx, most of my friends throughout my life have been PoC and either queer or queer-friendly enough to hang out with us at gay clubs, and now a significant chunk of my family is Mexican as well. So I can so, so easily imagine that this could have happened instead at the gay club I used to frequent in college. Several years ago, there actually WAS a shooting outside a club that we were at, and had we been in a slightly different place at a slightly different time, we could have easily been caught in it. It was nowhere near the scale of this one, though. So many, many people.

    It’s especially hard for me right now because I am alone at the moment. C’s out on vacation with her mom, and completely incommunicado. I know she’s pretty safe, since they’re about as far removed from other people as they could possibly be. I hope that her time away from the news helps her, and that she’s not just worrying about it the whole time. In the meantime, I’ll get through, but I need to be a lot more careful about self-care. I’m not very good at remembering it when I’m stressed out about something like this. Usually C and I rely on each other for reminders and take care of each other. I’m finding that I need a LOT more sleep than usual today, and I’m very physically sore from being tense over the past few days.

    Also yeah, that pressure to blog about it, I feel that too. But… words are hard, and blogging is the opposite of self-care for me right now.

  7. Sciatrix says:

    Very belatedly–I was moving on the day news of it hit, and I didn’t see it until the next day. And then I had a major conference (which I’m still at) this week, and which I needed to finish a talk from, and about five major home improvement projects I’ve been juggling.

    All of which is to say: it was exhausting, and scary, and I am still off and on oscillating from anger to fear to grief to anger again. I have one more day when I have to be ON–I’m not going to let that fucker take my conference from me, and I’m going to use its opportunity to forge connections with other queer people in my field in particular and other scientists in general while it’s here–and then I can collapse. I’m running on fumes right now, and I don’t have the time to really process, and–fuck.

    I had a lot of feelings vomit over on the Asexual Spectrum Professional Network’s LinkedIn page, but I still keep getting waves of feels when I stop to think. So.


  8. Pingback: #QueerSelfLove, Intersectional Harassment, and Resilience | The Asexual Agenda

  9. elainexe says:

    I dropped off the face of the ace community for a while and here I am catching up. Well. I’m still sad about this event. I still wish I could have gone to pride that week, but I was sure I would have ended up on local TV…any reporter, seeing me in my headscarf like a target to rush towards. Outing me to family and the Muslim community. So I stayed home. Just when I needed pride the most.
    I’ve just felt more and more pain this year about it feeling like I don’t fit into the world view of the ace community and wider queer community as a Muslim…which is why I stopped blogging/commenting so much. And this event just stands out a lot among all the thoughts I have about this.

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