Shocked? No. Resigned? Maybe. Numb? I hope not.
The slaughter continues. On the heels of two multiple murders on or near college campuses in Virginia and Idaho the week of Nov. 12 comes news of a mass shooting at a Colorado Springs nightclub catering to the LGBTQ+ community on Nov. 19.
A gunman entered Club Q during a comedy and drag show and started shooting, killing five and wounding 25 before an Army veteran disarmed him and subdued him with the help of another bar patron. The audience in the club was a mix of gay, straight and transgender people, out for an evening’s entertainment.
I can’t even lift up my head in prayer or ask, “Why?” I’m just overwhelmed. As are most of us with hearts or souls.
Americans, as a nation, have become inured to violent death and mayhem, especially on school and college campuses. It would be somewhat comforting to think our apathy is a byproduct of living through a pandemic that has killed more than 1 million of us – so far – not to mention the 6.6 million dead worldwide. But, no, I think we started to slide into apathy with Sandy Hook and tipped over with Uvalde. Maybe earlier than that.
Now, each new alert of a twisted soul targeting children, young people and people who are not like them brings a moan, a shake of the head and a “Not again.”
All of the killings this month have been horrific, disturbing and heartbreaking. But I want to pay special attention to what happened in Colorado Springs because it involved a community that deserves as much love and as much sorrow as the athletes who died in Virginia or the sorority and fraternity members in Idaho.
We don’t know yet the motive of the alleged gunman, but it’s not hard to wonder if he wasn’t inspired to act by the environment of increasing violence and harassment against LGBTQ people by right-wing extremists and homophobic and transphobic rhetoric by conservative politicians.
Some in Colorado Springs have already made the connection.
“Our community is under attack from politicians that spew vile lies to folks that believe them and act on their hatred. How dare they try to harm our transgender and non-binary youth for their own political gain and power?” Nadine Bridges, the executive director of LGBTQ advocacy organization One Colorado, said at a vigil for the shooting victims.
The atmosphere this year has bred fear, not only among the LGBTQ community but among those of us who have relatives and friends who are part of that community.
The politicians who help spread the fear through word and deed must stop.
To the politicians: Every one of us is part of the human family. Or, as many Christians believe, we’re all created in God’s likeness. That means all of us.
My advice is to learn to live with difference. In time, you may even come to accept your neighbor as part of your family.
Sonny Albarado is the editor of the Arkansas Advocate, which first published this essay.