Like you, W and I we are heartbroken over Orlando.
I sat at my computer much of Sunday trying to work and trying not to feel. I was unsuccessful at both.
I had an overwhelming urge to do something. Anything. I could feel the itch on my skin.
I glanced over at my filing cabinet and saw a poster for a yoga/wellness festival that a friend of mine is putting together. A single word in purple ink caught my eye: LOVE.
I sent off a clumsy e-mail. Can we table there and raise money for Orlando? I asked. Maybe hand out rainbow ribbons. Maybe do something else. Just brainstorming right now. Let me know.
An hour later, I got the go ahead. A 10′ by 10′ spot and three free passes to the event.
The next day, W came up with a plan. I ran around most of Monday securing supplies.
On Monday night, we arrived at a local UCC church for a prayer vigil for Orlando. We started our prayer flag there. Those in attendance wrote messages of love and support for Orlando. They tied the rainbow-colored strips of cloth side by side on a rope.
We will take the prayer flag to the festival on Saturday. We will spread love. We will be love.
Because isn’t that what’s it’s all about?
Being able to love openly and freely and safely.
As a butch woman, I think about safety more than W. I’m what you call a hundred footer. From 100 feet away, everyone knows I’m gay. (Or thinks I’m a dude, but that’s a different post.) Every time I reach for my wallet in my back pocket or straighten my necktie or use the restroom that corresponds with my gender, the skin on the back of my neck stands up because I know I could be in danger.
Orlando is a reminder that we are not safe. Not even in those places we thought we were. Especially in those places.
It is also a reminder that we have work to do. I have recommitted to writing my stories and sharing them with anyone who will listen.
So, on Saturday, we will wear our rainbow colors. We will hand out rainbow ribbons. We will collect prayers and messages of support and donations that we will forward to the LGBT Orlando Community Center.
Maybe it won’t matter, this elaborate arts and crafts project. Maybe it won’t make a difference. Maybe it will.
I think about the conversations I’ve had this past week.
I think about my 60-year-old transgender friend telling me about waving the hell out of a giant rainbow flag at a prayer vigil in Philadelphia and marching around City Hall with his cane. You, friend, are my role model.
I think about the middle-aged Latino man I met at the local prayer vigil. He had just come out after having spent most of his life in the closet.
I think about the older woman who grabbed a strip of orange cloth on which to write her message to Orlando. Openly weeping, she told me how she had lived in a small town growing up and how her gentle-hearted brother had been terribly bullied.
At least we are doing something.
We are showing we are not afraid. That we aren’t going away. That we are proud of who we are.
We are starting conversations.
We are talking about the one thing we know about. The one thing we know like the back of our lover’s hands.
Orlando will make us love harder and fiercer. Today, I feel more in love with W than ever before.
We are experts on love because we’ve risked it all for love.
Here’s what we know in the deepest place in our hearts: Love is love.
And love always wins.
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If you’d like to take part in our prayer flag, leave your message in the comments section. I’ll transcribe your message on a strip of cloth and tie it to the flag. We will be sending the completed prayer flag to the LGBT Community Center in Orlando.