Hello friend-os, I hope you’re enjoying the saga of the fox, because it’s not over yet!
A little housekeeping: I recorded an interview for a local Tucson radio show, Broad Perspectives on KXCI, and it’ll air on Sunday at 3. So if you’re around & so inclined, give it a listen. We talked The Daughters, the library residency, writing, family history, comics, and more. It was great fun.
Now, we all know, I assume, about the horrific shooting that took place at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. I have been trying to walk this line between expressing my own horror and outrage, and listening to the queer and Muslim communities, who have been so deeply affected. But I feel a little bit chickenshit that I haven’t personally addressed it, mostly I guess because this is something that affects all of us, whether we like it or not.
My god. 50 lives lost. 50! People who were senselessly, cruelly, viciously slaughtered by a man with an assault rifle. There are so many pieces of this terrible puzzle that come together to make the picture: first, I think, that we absolutely need more restrictive gun control in this country. What kind of hysteria has gripped us that we can put suspected terrorists on no-fly lists, but we refuse to stop them from buying the most outlandish killing machines, legally? I mean, not just a gun, an assault rifle that allowed this man to kill fifty people in minutes, and harm at least fifty more. (And that’s just the physical toll; the emotional toll is almost endless, isn’t it?) Why are we so crippled in our ability to admit that guns are weapons? That is their intent! That is why they exist! Several of my beloved and trusted family members hunt and use guns safely. None of them would be the least bit upset about having to submit to a background check; they all have gun safes; none need AKs. Any legislators or citizens who oppose stricter gun control laws are, at this point, criminally negligent. How anyone can claim to decry terrorism and simultaneously vote down laws to keep guns out of the hands of suspected terrorists is absolutely beyond me.
I mean, when was the last time you went to a movie without fearing you were going to be shot, just a little? It’s been over a year, for me.
But then there is also the rest. The fact that these fifty beautiful people who were killed were killed because they were gay. (Or, let’s be specific, because they were in a gay nightclub; because they were part of the queer community.) There is something not only terrible but also exhausting about this, the way there is something exhausting about the way abortion rights are being eroded, the way that black people keep getting shot by the police, the way that Muslim Americans are continually asked to answer for the radical extremists who commit atrocities while white people are not. Didn’t we all think the slaughter of Matthew Shepard was in the past? Didn’t we all think we were making progress?
I read this interview today, with a woman who, for medical reasons (her baby was inviable outside the womb) had to have an abortion at 32 weeks. It is a grueling and visceral account of her trauma, and also a chastening portrait of abortion rights in America, where the last reliable practitioners for women to get a necessary medical procedure are in their 70s, and targeted by murderers. What’s going to happen when that generation of doctors dies? How can we ask anyone to take up their mantle, when they will be underpaid, protested, and possibly shot, all while paying med school bills? I don’t know. I don’t know. And I do know that people have deep feelings about abortion, and who should get them, and what they mean. But they mean necessary medical care for women, and the right for women to live safe, valued lives. (The interviewee had this great thing to say:
Another thing I want to say is that yes, I had this very particular, horrible situation—but if I had had an abortion at 20 weeks just because I didn’t feel ready, that should be okay, too. Like it or not, all of our rights are intertwined. Maybe there’s some woman who has had four abortions and maybe that feels really wrong to you. But my rights are wrapped up with hers, so I have to fight like fuck for her to have as many as she wants—not just for her sake, but for mine, too. If I ever have a daughter, the way things are currently going, she’s going to be fucked if she ever goes through this.
She is wonderfully articulate on this point.)
I want to believe that human rights are progressing, I want to believe that the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice. I want our common humanity to be the principle by which we live. But it’s scary out there. I keep feeling that we’re being dredged back out to the dark ocean, the coldness of the past. I want my beloved friends who are queer and female and people of color and immigrants and everything else to feel like they’re valued and loved and safe. I mean, I just want them to feel like they can be regular people, who have their own lives and struggles. Who won’t be shot. Who won’t be maligned. Who won’t be denied jobs or equal pay or voting rights or justice when they are attacked.
I don’t know how to do this except to say it, and try to live it.
Please help us. Please help us live in that world, in whatever way you can. Please choose love in your life, however that is possible for you.