Denial, Anger, Bargaining… Revolution, CHANGE: How the LGBTQ+ Community Goes On After Orlando
By: Vicktor Alexander
I wasn’t sure what to write about for my first blog post back here on Love Bytes. I was thinking about writing about why I write Epilogues in all my books, or even how I’d obsessively read every mpreg (male pregnancy) book I could find during the six months I spent in and out of the VA hospital. I even considered writing about new authors I discovered and being on “the other side of the ebook” or life as a reader, where I talked about book prices in comparison to word length, pages, etc.
Then Orlando happened and everything changed.
I’ve cycled through a lot of different emotions since the attack on Pulse and a lot of them are going to come out in this blog post. I don’t apologize for that. I’ve had people, other authors, more seasoned than I, tell me more than once, that I have to be forever conscious of what I put online because everything I post, say, do, etc. can impact my career. Vicktor Alexander, after all, is a brand.
But, Vicktor A. Bailey, is a person. He is a transgender, gay man. He is an advocate. A philanthropist. He is unapologetic. And it took too damn long for me to come out for me to care much about it now, and after what happened in Orlando, I know I can’t be silent. Now is not the time for silence. Now is the time for those of us who have a platform, a voice, an audience, an avenue, or a means of getting the word out there to use it, and that’s what I’m going to do. I’ve never been one to be quiet. In high school they called me “Malcolmita X” and it was a nickname I wore with pride.
On the night June 11th, 2016 I was dealing with an anti-LGBT, pro-Trump, anti-Muslim, right wing, Conservative Puerto Rican Catholic woman who was in my home for three hours telling me that as a black, gay, Messianic Jewish transgender man that my beliefs were wrong, me transitioning was wrong, the fact that I identified as a gay man was wrong, the way I thought and voted were wrong. And even the fact that I could back up everything I said with historical, scientific, factual, or even (in the case of my Judaic beliefs) original linguistical and Rabbinical teachings and facts meant absolutely nothing because she “had a few years on me” and so she obviously knew better.
This woman was my nurse.
Hired, or outsourced by the VA, to come and give me my medication, take my vitals, and refill my pill boxes. All three times that she came by, she only ever took my vitals, never anything else. She sat and talked with me, and each time got longer and longer. I could hear her moving around my house, but I’m not ashamed about the fact that I have my rainbow flag attached to my wall, or the fact that I have LGBT-themed movie posters such as The Mulligans or Private Romeo hanging up either. Neither am I concerned about the fact that I have two paintings done by me, one of which has two men kissing. I’m proud of my community. I’m proud of being who I am. Proud that I’m here. Proud that I’m alive and standing, especially since I’ve thought and attempted suicide before as a teen and as an adult.
So I’ve had one nurse who refused to come back to work in my home because she was “uncomfortable,” and hey, that’s fine, but this nurse was different. Instead of her leaving, she’d decided that she was going to change me. (-cue scoff-) Many have tried and failed. Sorry. I didn’t just come out of the closet. I blew up that bitch.
Anyway, she came out and spent three hours arguing, judging, spewing, and berating me, my lifestyle, and my beliefs, after which, she took my vitals. I didn’t raise my voice, though she raised hers a number of times, and anyone who knows me will tell you that when I get quiet is when you should start to worry.
She left, and I finally responded to the text messages and phone calls I’d been receiving repeatedly throughout her visit… while I called her company and reported her. Some friends of mine were going out and I told them to drink for me since they knew I couldn’t go with them: “Regular drink or Irish drink?” “I’ve just dealt with a hateful, religious nurse that I’m not entirely sure wasn’t sent by my family or my stepfather. Irish drink.” “Oh man…”
The next morning, I woke up at 11am to my phone going off like crazy. It was a smattering of Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” for my text messages, and Zayn’s “Pillowtalk” for missed phone calls/voicemails. I started to check them and was confused at all of the concern that was being thrown my way. “Are you okay?” “Did you hear about Orlando?” “Did you know anybody out there?” “Don’t you have friends that live in Orlando? Are they okay?” I was startled. What had happened in Orlando? So, I did what any rational person would do. I turned my television onto the news and then got on Twitter.
It was like white noise after the first fifteen minutes. All of the world got quiet and I sat on my bed, shaking. Tears flooded my eyes and all I could say was “No. No. No no no no no no.” I’d heard the sound of sirens as I’d finally drifted off to sleep at around 3 or 4am, I live very close to the highway and about 30 minutes away from Orlando, but it’s not unusual to hear sirens in Polk County. Hell, it would be weird to not hear them. They’ve become a bit of my lullaby. But when I thought about it, I realized that the sound of sirens had been steady, instead of just one siren and then nothing else for a while.
My heart felt ripped out of my chest, and I cried. I cried and cried and cried (I’m still cycling through different emotions: tears, anger, denial, guilt, determination to DO something). I wept for the 49 people who died (Anderson Cooper reads 48 of the names: HERE) (Lady Gaga honors the victims and read their names: HERE), for the 53 people who were injured, for the over 100 people who weren’t injured or killed, but who were there and heard the gunfire and lived through the tragedy at Pulse. I wept for the families. I sobbed for the partners, the loved ones, the friends. I was in grief about it for days. I knew I was. Especially because I could feel myself crying at different times, getting angry with allies who were upset but who didn’t understand why we were so upset, I was angry at my fellow authors who were still promoting new releases on the day the news broke and days after, even though I knew some of those tweets and FB statuses could have been scheduled beforehand and people still needed to make a living, I was angry at other people, outside of our allies, those online, who were all anti-Muslim, anti-Islam, who didn’t understand why the LGBTQ+ community was so upset and was trying to make it seem like this was a “hate crime” rather than a “terrorist act”: “like we all know that it is.” I got angry with people who told me that “it was sad, yes, but if those people hadn’t been in that type of environment, in that type of atmosphere, then that wouldn’t have happened. And you know those Muslims, they hate gay people anyway…”
Yeah. Someone actually said that to me.
I was just angry (kind of like Samantha Bee in this clip: HERE) and it was irrational and emotional and so unlike me, so I needed to withdraw from being online, so I did, but then I was in the real world and that was when I was smacked with what my granny used to call “ugly reality.”: “Baby, you can shake off a stranger’s hatred, but when that hatred is beating at your front door, that’s an ugly reality and you just gotta face that head on.”
“Those fa***** was just feeling the wrath of God.” “Well, looks like Trump ain’t gotta build that wall now, huh? We’ll just let those Muslims go and take care of all those Mexicans and maybe take clear up the AIDS in our country too.”
I heard that and much worse. I felt as if I were surrounded by the cold, unfeeling, morally reprehensible dregs of mankind, who all were thinking that “those gays had it coming,” though they wouldn’t say it to me. And they were all quick to jump on the anti-Muslim/anti-Islam, deport them all, all Muslims are terrorists, bandwagon. I couldn’t even sit on my porch to smoke without hearing some of my neighbors loudly discussing it with family members.
That fear that members of the LGBTQ+ community live with, especially those of us who identify as being a transgender person of color, began to rise back up inside of me. It’s something I live with on a daily basis. Especially living in Florida, and living in Central Florida, Polk County, the danger of being who I am, of living openly and honestly the way I do, is palpable. Oftentimes I can taste it in the air. It’s something my bio family identified, and something that even other white, cisgender, members of the LGBTQ+ community point out to me. But while I could feel that fear behind me, threatening to overtake me like a tidal wave, I felt something much stronger.
And other members of the LGBTQ+ community felt it as well. And so we all began to apply it to the different areas not only within our own community that needed fixing, but outside of our community, in our society, our nation, and our world. The world came together and sent love, sent care, sent waves of compassion to Orlando, and to the LGBTQ+ community of Orlando (though we cannot ignore that this occurred on Latin Night at Pulse, and finally people are starting to focus on the Latinx community as well), and that invigorated us. Gave us a drive toward an end goal. We were going to fix what was broken, because that was what we did. (Listen to Tituss Burgess sing “Somewhere” at the Stonewall vigil: Here)
So we cycle through the stages of grief, the initial denial, as the news hit our airwaves, our Twitter feeds, our Facebook streams, our phones. We were stunned silent, unable to believe that the worse mass shooting to take place in modern times, since 9/11, had happened in Orlando, Florida, and was both a hate crime and a terrorist attack in a gay nightclub on Latin Night.
Then we got sad. We cried. We held vigils. All over the world. As the names and the biographies of the 49 victims were revealed, we mourned them alongside their families, partners, friends, and loved ones. We were humbled as celebrities, as the Tony’s, as Broadway, as sports teams, athletes, as even British royalty, and other world dignitaries or leaders offered their condolences and sympathies.
Then we decided to bargain with our government… or rather, our version of bargaining. “Change the damn laws! Children were killed at Sandy Hook and you did nothing, and now another mass shooting has occurred. Change. The. Damn. Laws!” We emailed, we called, and we petitioned our senators. We shared tweets, Facebook statuses, and when, finally, a vote was going to be held, we did it all over again.
Then, we got an answer.
Some of us were shocked. Some of us weren’t.
We knew that we weren’t going to fight violence with violence. We’re the LGBTQ+ community. We’re beauty, rainbows, fabulousness, glitter, parades, leather, truth, happiness, pride, family, and love. We don’t do blood. It clashes with our outfits, stains the carpets, the wood, and really, it just clashes with our image. We knew that we were going to have to be “the light that shines in the darkness.” We knew that we were going to have to fight ignorance with wisdom and knowledge, enlightenment. We knew that we were going to have to fight fear with courage and bravery, as we’ve always done. We knew that we were going to have to have to stand toe-to-toe with those in positions of power, and use that power, our words, and even their own against them.
Our anger, our rage, had now become a revolution, and that revolution would lead to change. It’s what happened after Stonewall, and it’s what will happen after Orlando.
We all have a part to play, whether it’s through educating others, through voting, donating, writing, whatever you can do, do it. Because from those of us in the community (and allies and parents I’m talking to you, too), to those who are just sick of the mass shootings, the violence, sick of the injustice, sick of continuously having to cycle through the 5 stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance), we all have something to do,
and it’s time for us to do it.
Stonewall was the flame that lit the flame within our community, and now Orlando is the pulse that will beat within us all as we finally go forth. And. Do.
*Donate to the GoFundMe Page HERE*
*Purchase the song “What the World Needs Now” by Broadway for Orlando HERE* (100% of the proceeds benefit the GLBT Community Center of Central Florida.