In the wake of the mass shooting in Orlando, my heart is shattered. So much death. So much loss. So many vibrant lives ripped apart because of hate. So much pain. So many tears. So much fear, especially in the LGBTQ+ community.
I've debated sharing this since I heard about the murders. I am terrified of what outcome it could have for me. I feel a small amount of guilt at the possibility this could take attention off the horrors experienced by the Latinx LGBTQ community in Orlando. But I also know that I can't wake up another day and look at myself in the mirror and pretend it doesn't affect me and remain silent. Pretend it doesn't scare me. Pretend I don't fear for my friends and loved ones who are LGBTQ, and yes, for myself.
I knew something was different about me before I really knew what it was. I knew I found girls attractive as well as boys. I had my first girl crush in high school. She was pretty, and sweet, and funny, with a phenomenal smile that lit up her whole face. We both had boyfriends. I pushed the feelings aside, because being attracted to someone of the same gender was SO not okay. I was Mormon, after all, and good Mormon girls were NOT gay.
I went to college. I dropped out of college. I moved in with my boyfriend. I formed a massive crush on a coworker. She was sarcastic and witty and had the cutest laugh. It was the first time I really admitted to myself that yes, I definitely liked both men and women.
I moved home and threw myself out of an abusive relationship and deep into the Mormon church. The first girl I kissed became a mark of shame and guilt. I had let Satan win. I was a horrible, awful, sinful person. I punished myself for weeks. I was sure God couldn't possibly forgive me for being such a disgusting person.
Then I met Brett and fell in love. I assumed (and hoped fervently) that being in love with and married to a cisgender heterosexual man would "cure" me. I don't remember if there was a point at which I admitted to Brett that I was also attracted to women, or if I was open about it from the beginning. He knew about my college fling, I know that. But I threw myself into wifehood and motherhood and stuffed all those feelings back down, as deep as I could.
Then the implosion started. And I began to realize that maybe, just maybe, I wasn't a horrible, awful, evil person for being attracted to women. I was still terrified. The implosion continued. I left the church. Brett left. And in my sudden, desperate, aching need to just stop pretending in all aspects of my life, I took a risk.
I acknowledged my sexuality. I accepted that it's okay. That it doesn't make me any less (or more!) of a person.
I started dating a woman. And she is beautiful and amazing and sweet and strong and one of the best, kindest people I know, and I am completely head over heels for her.
I am bisexual. And the LGBTQ+ community--MY COMMUNITY-- is hurting right now. Pray if you will. But act. Because prayers are not going to stop more people from being killed. Prayers aren't going to bring back the dead. Prayers aren't going to comfort the families of these beautiful people as they cry over empty chairs.
Because next time, it could be me. It could be my friends. 20 years from now, for all I know, it could be my child.
Stop with the useless platitudes and ACT.