On Sunday, June 12th, Omar Mateen walked into the club Pulse and killed 50 people from the LGBTQ community. This is my response.
I am not gay but I am an ally of the LGBTQ community. My parents divorced when I was four years old and subsequently many of the male figures I was surrounded by were my mom’s friends, many who were gay men. Of course at four or five I didn't really understand what gay or straight meant. I just knew Harvey loved Tony, Jim loved Eric, and so on and so on. And they all loved me. They treated me with kindness, compassion, and as if I was their son.
Sunday’s event hit me hard and has been in the forefront of my thoughts every day since. I didn't know a single victim but their loss, their families’ loss, and LGBTQ community’s loss feels like my loss. At the same time, I understand that as a straight male I am provided with certain privileges. Nobody ever told me my marriage to Emily was immoral. I am able to donate blood freely. I do not have to worry about my safety when I give my wife a kiss in public. In so many ways I am safe. But I am an ally. I will continue to write and call my senators, congressman and woman, governors, etc. and point out discrimination and hate wherever I see it. I am also an artist and one of the ways I can be an ally and advocate is with my art. One of the ways I process my grief is with my art.
I must give the credit of the idea for this piece to Dan R. Rouser who sent me an email about an event that took place after the shooting, admittedly one that I had also read about. He then provided the impetus for this piece based on the cacophony of cell phones going off, while investigators were at the scene. My piece uses 50 different cell phone rings each one representing a victim of Sunday’s tragedy. I hope you will take 12 minutes to listen to it and to remember them.