While America was readying for another day, most were greeted with the unholy news of another mass shootout- this time Orlando. Hashtags across social media and newsfeeds filled my phone, just like it did to the scores of millions out there I am sure. I woke up to many messages, people talking about it on Whatsapp, on Facebook, on Twitter and it was on the news as well- my dad was watching it in terror- looking at me in utmost fright – I have never seen such an expression on him for me that way before.
I am in India, how does it matter to me?
“Bro are you okay?” wrote a friend to me over FB Instant Messaging, “I heard about the attacks in Orlando,” he said. “My prayers go out to the families that lost their loved ones,” he continued. I was perplexed a little, because I am in Kolkata, and he in Los Angeles- a straight male friend, an LGBTQIA ally, a father of three and a loving husband, son and son in law. I wondered why he wrote that to me. It struck me then. I am gay, I am from this community, a loving community with all its colors and strength- America once again has been attacked; humanity has been attacked, hence the query if I was okay.
Kolkata was under the ambush of rains, my cab stopped half way through because of the water logging and I had to call my mentor at the salon; I had to come back home because the waters were almost to my mid thighs. “How does it matter to me?” I had a co-passenger say in the share cab that I was sitting in at 10am this morning.
I pitied the inhuman response once again, from an Indian that worked in an American run MNC in Sector 5 Salt Lake! “Hate crimes could happen to anyone; not just the LGBTQIA community,” I told him as he and I trudged off in the murky waters. “Faggots have no place on this planet,” he said. I wished that moment the waters swallowed him; I took a left and in disgust walked away.
That was not the end
I heard our PM, Shri Narendra Modi tweeted his ‘heartfelt condolence’ for the Orlando victims. A part of me winched as I read that message on my phone. I then saw a famous Delhi activist on FB condemn the PM of India for the same- “hypocrisy” was the term he hashtagged with- fair enough I thought. The PM of India doesn’t bother to give us the freedom and rights we deserve as humans, and on the other hand is showing his solidarity to the Orlando victims- I smell a ploy here- India wants business and investments from the US- why leave such an opportunity of showing how ‘HUMAN’ we can be!
What about the daily massacre (unreported) my LGBTQIA friends, brothers and sisters go through? What about granting us the liberty from the draconian 377? While my soul still weeps for the many families grieving losing their loved ones in the Orlando firing, my soul still weeps for not being able to do a thing.
Pitting against one another
And then I check my Facebook, and what do I see. I see feminists write about the killer- he’s a man, a toxic masculine figure and the male bashing began. One feminist went on to tell me that only 10 percent of the USA mass shootings involved women- according to her research. My only concern was- hate crimes and gender, why? Do the ten percent and their loved ones affected; killed by female shooters not matter?
I saw umpteen tweets about muslims being the root cause of all evil, namely terrorism. And then I see the Christians talking ill about Islam. If that wasn’t enough for me at four this noon, I receive inbox messages that as a member of the agnostic community, I should refrain from using phrases such as “my prayers and thoughts go out to the families”, because that’s so surreal to speak off.
I implore you reading this
I ask you to be sensible enough to condemn the act, and to stop making generalized sweeping statements of religion, spiritualism, gender, orientation and civil right beliefs. I ask of you to think of the families that lost their loved ones- the gay bar had straight people partying away till wee hours in the morning too- all lives matter. I ask you to be human enough to think of mothers and fathers that await their child’s return; maybe some would in a coffin. I ask you to be kind enough to keep the world in good thoughts; it may have happened in the US, but it could happen anywhere and from any angle at a place closer to you.
Have we lost our sense of humanity? Yes we have! Stop posting your prayers on Facebook, when all you want to do is to condemn a religion, community or an orientation. Be human, not for a fashion statement to be one with the herd mentality, but to be someone who can pay it forward and to make this place a little better to live in.
I ask you to remember just not Orlando tonight, but the many ORLANDO’s across the globe that fight a life of pain and torment, of victimization and abuse. I end with this one note from S.F Drego being shared on Facebook:
“Omar Mateen may have pulled the trigger. But make no mistake, it was religion that loaded the gun.
Every time the priest, bishop or cleric said that homosexuality was a sin and you nodded without questioning, you loaded one bullet. Then when you repeated to your kids that a relationship between two men was wrong, you loaded one more. And when your kids went on to make fun of the gay boy in college, you loaded yet another. You and your faithful kinds helped perpetuate a global chain of hate. And yesterday, that chain reached a man in Orlando with access to a gun.
All Omar Mateen had to do was pull the trigger. A million religious people had already loaded the gun.
And now you want to pray for Orlando. What a fucking irony”