Cassie gets serious about Orlando

IMG_8426Hey, y’all. When I sit down to write my little ol’ column, I usually write about whatever has been on my mind, or I go in the general direction of giving advice to others. After all, this did start out as an “Ask Cassie the drag queen anything” kind-of-deal. Well, since no one has asked for advice in a few weeks — apparently I have solved all of your problems and you are all living a life free from a need for advice — I will talk about the only thing that has been on my brain as of late.

On June 12, some asshole went into Pulse nightclub and killed 49 beautiful souls and wounded many more. I’m not going to talk about the absolute need for gun control and a policy change that will make it hard for bad guys, hell-bent on death and destruction to get their hands on weapons whose only purpose is carnage. Hell, if the politicians won’t listen to the families of people killed by automatic weapons, what chance does a drag queen have? The whole situation is so frustrating and embarrassing for us as a country.

The evening of June 12, I contemplated not going to work and doing my job as an entertainer. There had been such a horrible dark cloud over all of us that day. Part of me just wanted to curl into the fetal position and stay in bed all day, but us “girls” take the old adage, “The show must go on!” very seriously. Suck it up buttercup and do what you do. I found that being out that night helped me immensely.

I was in awe of the turnout that night. I had friends that don’t come out that often show up and tell me they felt it was important to be out that night. I’m glad they were there. On the way to the club, I remember thinking, “This is scary, and I hope I am not scared tonight to be onstage.” Once there, the fear was nowhere to be found. It was our job that night to help take our minds off the horrors of that morning, and although it may have briefly left our minds, it still weighed heavily on our hearts. I wish I were more eloquent in those situations, I hope the crowd knows how much it meant to us that they were there. I love my community and was very proud that night to be a part of it.

The next morning, I woke up, turned on the television and cried leaning more details. Facebook was awash with stories and posts that just felt like a gut-punch. A showgirl friend who worked at Pulse posted that she was OK but lost many friends. My husband was at work, so I was home alone that day. I felt completely overwhelmed by grief. I know the shooting happened in Florida but it felt close.

I have never struggled with depression. I’ve been in a bad mood, felt ennui and been heartbroken over many things, but I have never felt an all-encompassing depression like I felt that day. My heart hurt, my brain wouldn’t stop going to dark places and I felt physically sick. If that is what people that struggle with depression feel like daily, I will never think of depressed people the same way.

Thank god for my Freakshow at JR.’s that night. Once again being around my people helped. The bar was full of our Monday night regulars and even more people that I have never seen out on a Monday. The show was light hearted and fun but what it did for my own personal morale, helped shoo away my dark cloud. Not completely — June 12 created a dark cloud and a change in all of us that will be there forever, but it made my dark cloud manageable.

On that Tuesday morning, I woke up and did the same thing I did on Monday, but instead of getting depressed, I got angry. I was angry at the lack of chatter on Facebook from my straight friends and family. I have quite a lot of straight folks that I am friends with on Facebook. Some of them I am related to, some that I went to school with, some are friends that I have known all my life and some are random Cassie fans that I feel a connection with. Many of these people post on Facebook and social media, prayers for everything. When the horrible terrorist attack happened in Paris, there were prayers for Paris. Many of them even changed their profile pic to the Paris flag. When the little boy fell into the gorilla enclosure and the poor animal was killed, there were prayers for the families and zookeepers even for the other gorillas that might miss their friend. But when the one of the worst terrorist attacks in American history happens… SILENCE!

I was confused and heartbroken and pissed off. Are we not worthy of your prayers because we are gay? Do they not care because it happened at a gay club? Are they so torn or worried what others might say if they show support for the gays? Can they not see past the fact that many of the people killed were gay and just see them as human? I wanted an outpouring of anger, heartbreak and support from my straight allies but all I felt was abandonment with the exception of a few.

Yes, I know it’s just stupid Facebook and I know I am on it way too much, but it is a valid way of getting a feel for what is being felt in our world. You know how scientists use frogs as a way of determining the health of an ecosystem. Facebook, to me, is like that frog and our frog is sick or dying.

Over the next few days, I heard from some of the more important members of my family and felt a little better. Then I got a message, through Facebook, from a woman that I have always considered my other mother. In fifth grade I became best friends with her sons and from then on they always made me feel like family. I received this message exactly when I need it.

James, I have been thinking about you a lot since the horrific event in Orlando. I want you to know that I know you, I know your heart. I know that you are struggling with this level of hate and prejudice. There is no sense to be made if it. It has always been out there, but not to this extent. I can’t imagine how you must feel having a job where you are supposed to make people laugh and let go of the hurt and pain of a prejudiced society. My heart goes out to you. I am so sorry that this prejudice exists. I am sorry that you, while hurting have to carry the weight of finding a way to make people laugh and entertain them while suffering. You are so kind, sensitive, caring and giving. You gave Les and I so much joy for so many years. I don’t have the words to heal your pain, fear or physical hurt right now. But, I do want you to know that you are loved. Your “family” is loved and I wish for you the strength to be strong and courageous right now. My heart is heavy for you and the Community that has been there for you and loved you for so many years. You are an amazing young man. We love you and will forever. When you are ready, we would love to have you and your husband over for a group hug. Mamma Perry.

Sometimes we just need to feel that others are thinking of us, praying for us, love us. I took strength from her words and hope you will too.

This week I got a little deep into my feelings and haven’t felt very funny. I promise next time to try not to be such a Debbie Downer. I love you all.

Remember to always love more, bitch less and be fabulous! XOXO, Cassie Nova.

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This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 8, 2016.