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Intersectional View: The Right To Protect Ourselves in All of Our Vulnerable Communities

(Photo: Getty Images)

The attack in Orlando at Pulse Nightclub will not generate a “LGBTQ Lives Matter” political campaign. Identity politics will not be the dominant theme here. I believe this because the issue at hand is not about the sexual orientation or gender identity of the people who were viciously robbed of their precious lives under heart wrenching vulnerable conditions. The LGBTQ response to this American grown terrorist will be about the absolute right to be free to protect ourselves in our own communities. The Orlando attack reminds the LGBTQ community of our collective position with every other American citizen who faces persistent physical vulnerability.

It would be amazing if we could live lives safe from dirty looks, vile words, physical assault, rape, and murder. But, alas, none of us enjoys truly safe lives because the violence that defines American culture is an un-checkable wild thing. It does not pause about how you identify. It is not impressed with what you drive, or where you live. It doesn’t halt to think about what you wear. It does not recognize and/or care about your specialness. It isn’t interested in who loves you. It never asks you if someone somewhere depends upon you for support. It does not contemplate the notable caliber of your alma mater. It has no consideration for the paid-in-full vacation package planned for far away tropic lands during this winter. Given the un-checkable nature of this American style combat-violence-in-civilian-spaces we must take new steps toward devising new social norms that sustain our safety in private, public, institutional, and occupational spaces in all American spaces. Wherever we are in the world, every human being deserves to be free from violence in reality not just in the prose of patriotic rhetoric.

In order to take these steps we must first recognize the bridges linking everyone to one another. More specifically, marginalized communities share similar features. I know because I am of African and Latin decent, queer identified, and female embodied. I have so many socially constructed identities often cast as “victim-class”. We queer people, brown people, women identified people, must engage in an aggressive educational effort across the nation. We must clarify and eradicate the conditions that feed and fuel the American norm of large-scale gun based tragedy.

I read that the Pulse Night Club murderer had seen two men holding hands a few weeks ago and was outraged. Stop right there. There are too many academic studies about human gender identity and sexual preferences for it all to be locked behind academic journal pay-walls. There are too many people who have the knowledge and skills to teach others about the complexity of human identities. There are too many people who believe they “hate” other people. It is impossible to “hate” in a context where knowledge does not exist. In other words, negative or positive opinions of anything or anyone based upon no data are worthless. People need to be educated about humanity in order to improve humanity. The battle we have ahead of us is not one or eradicating hatred from the hearts and minds of people; we must devise comprehensive paths of educating one another on how to understand and value humanity across representations, social identities, political parties, ability, education, class positioning, and religious affiliation. Our lives, our future, depend upon it.