For Orlando and “The Others”

Like most of you, we at IMRU are struggling to make some sense of what happened at Pulse in Orlando this week.  The truth is, of course, such violence and hatred can never make sense and there is little one can do to ease the pain.

But here we are, again, watching our community be the target of hate – precious beautiful queer lives taken at the moment they thought they were safe and among family. No, nothing quite like this has ever happened in the US before, yet violence against us is not new.

This is Pride month, let us remember why. Our modern LGBTQ movement was born this month almost 50 years ago because the most marginalized of an already marginalized community – street kids, trans men and women, drag queens, queers of color – had had enough of the hatred. They had enough of division, being labeled perverts, being told they were a threat to everything good. Our queer forebears resisted because they knew they were right. They fought for their dignity, they fought for the idea of love. This was Pride.

During the height of the AIDS epidemic in this country, again, the rhetoric of division took our lives. AIDS was something we deserved, we were told. AIDS wasn’t a priority because it affected “those people.” But we fought for our lives, our dignity, our right to love — even as we were dying. We would make the world see the power of that love. This was Pride.

And still, as drag queens get bashed, queer kids get kicked out of their homes, queers of faith, queers of color are alienated from their communities, as trans refugees are unable to return to their home countries, Pride is a reminder of the power of love to transcend oppression. Pride may be a party sometimes, but that’s only because we know what the stakes are. It’s a celebration of the fact that we are still here, stronger, more diverse, determined to live fiercely, determined to love no matter what. We have lost so many lives to get here, and Pride means that those losses will never be in vain.

Whether this particular act was motivated by ISIS, by the sight of two men kissing, or by some other insanity that we don’t yet understand, it was not likely random. Whatever the declared rationale, our community was again the target of violence – as so many communities are – because of who we were perceived to be.  From daily, petty acts of bigotry, to the attacks in Paris, Istanbul, or Orlando, there is almost aways a core idea that there is an “other,” unworthy kind of human that has been sown over time. This is the rhetoric of division. And it gave one young man with a gun a rationale to walk into a local club, during Pride month, and take 50 of our lives, and to harm so many more.

That rhetoric has power, no doubt. But it is also folly. This was a terrorist act, it was an attack on America, it was an attack against people of color, it was an attack against the LGBTQ community, and it was an attack against humanity. It was all of these things at once, impossible to neatly parse.

May we come to a time when Pride is a given and that we see that division between us based on race, gender, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or country of origin is only a way to keep us down. The alternative is one human family, built on a foundation of dignity and love, and that is powerful.

May we stop seeing those who are different as the “other” but as one of our own. The folks who went to Pulse on Saturday night were our own, whether we knew them or not. We will not forget them.

We would like to dedicate tonight’s show to all those whose lives were taken at Pulse in Orlando, to those who were injured and to all of their loved ones.   Our love goes out to you tonight.

Abby Dees & IMRU


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    Unity Fellowship Of Christ Church, Los Angeles
    9608 South Figueroa Street
    Los Angeles, CA 90003
    Cell (323) 620-7664



    LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – June 18 – Unity Fellowship Of Christ Church, Los Angeles (UFCCLA) invites everyone to their annual Juneteenth & Unity Pride celebration, from 10:00am to 5:00pm, on Saturday, June 18th. Figueroa Street will be closed from 97th Street to Colden Avenue (two blocks north of Century Blvd.) for an exciting day of singing, dancing, succulent foods, spoken word, vendors, games and much more. FREE Street Fair OPEN TO EVERYONE.

    At 12 noon, the co-pastors, Rev. Leslie Burke and Rev. Russell Thornhill welcomes everyone to join in a rally remembering those who lost their lives in Orlando, Florida. The Co-Pastors said, “We must stand together, in fierce love, for everyone and denounce hatred.”

    Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States, dating back to June 19, 1865. It is a time for reflection and rejoicing. A time for assessment, self-improvement, honoring our ancestors and celebrating each other.

    Unity Fellowship Of Christ Church is a non-denominational, international movement of churches proclaiming the “SACREDNESS OF ALL LIFE,” thus focusing on empowering those who have been oppressed and made to feel shame. Through an emerging network, UFCC works to facilitate social change and improve the life chances of those who have been rejected by society’s systems and institutions. Although it’s pivotal work focuses on the weak and powerless, the scope of it’s work is inclusive and has significance for all people. “We believe GOD IS LOVE and Love Is For EVERYONE.”


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