In the wake of the shooting, I have seen a lot of support from mainstream society towards the LGBTQ in the form of two phrases: ‘love is love’ and ‘love wins’ (adopted as the hashtag for marriage equality). I have seen few members of LGBTQ community use these phrases, and I think it’s important to discuss the roots of this difference.
Both phrases place an emphasis on love, on romantic relationships. Both assume that at the core of this issue is love. But it’s not, and it’s important for straight allies to understand this.
These two phrases erase most aspects of queer identity. If I was single and celibate for the rest of my life, I wouldn’t be any less queer. When I was 13 and privately trying on my brother’s clothes to see what it felt like to present as a boy, love was not involved. When I was too afraid to present that way in public, love still wasn’t involved. When you reduce our identity and experiences to love, you box in our identity, our experiences, and reality in which we live. The experience of trans folk is completely erased by these phrases.
And this problem is heightened because we aren’t safe. If instead of focusing on love over the past years, we as a society focused on acceptance, on physical safety and on legal protection, maybe Sunday’s events could have been different. But last year’s court case didn’t protect us, because even if love is love, it isn’t a safety net. Love doesn’t consider how experience within the community is based on many factors, how queer and trans people of color experience their identity and the world in a vastly different way than I do, and how they are also more negatively affected by these lack of protections. Love isn’t a law allowing trans people to use their bathroom of choice, which happens to often also make them safer in many circumstances. Love isn’t the same as putting in systems to ensure the protection of LGBTQ people in homeless shelters. Love isn’t job security.
So, yes I want love, but I want so much more than that. I want my community to feel safe. As individual with an incredible amount of privilege within the LGBTQ community, I simply want others to even just experience the level of safety I usually enjoy. I want trans and gender non conforming folks to be able to walk out of their house and feel secure. I want their bodies and identities, especially for people of color, to have as much worth and space in this world as that of a straight white man. In the aftermath of this atrocity, I want the queer Latinx community, who was so brutally targeted, to be at the center of this discussion. And I want us to listen.
So if you changed your profile picture now or last year, but have yet to discuss how you can personally make public and private spheres safer for our community, now is the time do it. Love won’t prevent the next violent attack to a member of our community, but strong allyship can.
Please, we deserve to feel as safe as you do.