I’ve only been to Orlando once. It was a work trip when I was the program director for WKLS-FM in Atlanta. We were, at the time, the flagship station for the Atlanta Braves radio network and I went down for a week during spring training. The Braves worked out in Orlando and played spring training at Cracker Jack Stadium.
We stayed at the Disney complex, in the Animal Kingdom. We played tourist at night and took care of work stuff during the day. It was a fun week. Orlando struck me as a clean, well-planned and overall very friendly city.
Sunday morning, June 12, when I woke to the news of the horrific attack at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, my first thought was, “Please no; not again.”
But it had happened again.
As I learned more about the events of the early morning hours of June 12, my thoughts were of what had to be confusion mixed with absolute terror as those inside Pulse realized what was happening. Someone with guns and a boatload of hatred was killing people he didn’t know for a reason I will never understand.
My next thought was of my partner Katie: What if we were in a club with friends, having a good time and something like this happened? And what if we were separated and couldn’t find one another?
That’s when the tears came, as I thought of those who lived that awful reality.
Later in the day, I wanted to connect with friends on Facebook, but I had to navigate an obstacle course of opportunism and more hate.
There was a tweet of a bible verse from a Texas state official (his office took it down and claimed it was pre-scheduled). Some took to social media to push gun control, or wall building or anti-Muslim sentiments.
Politics in all its ugly glory was on display.
Meanwhile, police in Orlando were calling moms and dads and brothers and sisters to tell them news that would change their lives forever — that their son or daughter or brother or sister had died in a hail of bullets in a nightclub, possibly because some sick, twisted people in Iraq or Syria hate gay people.
I don’t understand it. I really don’t. Why can’t we just love each other?
I know, it sounds so idealistic and naive but it’s also possible. It costs nothing — and it just might work.
Now isn’t the time to turn our backs on our Muslim brothers and sisters. From what I know of their religion, they no more condone this kind of extremism than do most Christians. Fear begets fear. Anger begets anger. Hate begets hate.
An eye for an eye, and the whole world is blind.
I weep for the victims. They were just out having a good time with friends or partners. They did nothing to deserve this. Their families will be shattered forever, lives changed in an instant.
The survivors will never forget where they were when this lunatic opened fire. The pain they must be feeling is unimaginable.
What is so frustrating to me is the feeling of impotence. I can’t seem to find anything productive to do about it. Katie and I went to the vigil Sunday night in Dallas, mostly to give and receive the moral support we and others so desperately needed.
I just can’t figure out why anyone would want to kill us because we love each other. I want to do something — anything — that is meaningful, helpful. Something that will keep this from ever happening again.
But I got nothin’.
The enemy isn’t guns. The enemy isn’t a religion. The enemy isn’t even a person.
It’s an ideology. How do you fight that? You can’t shoot an ideology. You can’t outlaw it. You can’t build a wall and keep it out.
If our response to this involves gunfire, then we are no better than the deranged person who committed this horrible act. I’m fine with police shooting the individual — but retribution against people we think might share his belief? What if we’re wrong?
Life is so precious. No religion disputes that. Oh, how I wish we could also realize how fragile it is and just love each other. As brothers and sisters. As fellow travelers, each worthy of respect and love.
Over the next few days will come the funerals — lots of them. One question will be asked again and again: Why?
There is no why. No good reason. Just hate.
Maybe we can use it as a wake-up call to reach out and love each other. Maybe we can start during our morning commute, or in the grocery store, or at work. I wish we’d see some love in Austin and Washington, D.C.
Maybe I’m a dreamer? So be it.
But please — Not. One. More. I just don’t think I can take it.
Leslie McMurray, a transgender woman, is a former radio DJ who lives and works in Dallas. Read more of her blogs at lesliemichelle44.wordpress.com