In case you haven’t heard the news, Nir Katz, 26, and Liz Tarboushi, 16, are dead and 13 others are injured after a gunman, clad in black, entered an LGBT Community Center in Tel Aviv, Israel and opened fire. I first heard the news via an email from jaysays.com contributor, Jude, and my internal voice fell silent. While the event itself is shocking, it’s not surprising.
Now, we are left with the aftermath of this violent and unconscionable attack on human life. We’re left with more questions than answers, along with many people pointing fingers and looking for someone to blame.
Unlike some of my contemporaries, I don’t blame religion, Christian, Jewish, Muslim or otherwise. The fact of the matter is this event could have been in any country, no matter how “liberal” and could have been orchestrated by any person of any religious background. Why? Because we have taught our children that being gay is: bad, a sin, evil, a mental disorder, a perversion – unequal.
In condemning other humans, religious text is used as justification, as religious text was used to justify the persecution of Protestants by the Catholics, Catholics by the Protestants, Jews by the Christians, Blacks by the Christians, Christians by the Muslims, Muslims by the Christians, etc., etc., etc.
Within the first 24 hours after the shooting, pseudo-Christian organizations and conservative bloggers began defending themselves against the gay activists that would surely blame them for this atrocity. They condemned the murders while in the same breath, condemning gay people – or as some argue, the action of being gay. While I believe this falls under Shakespearean theory, “The lady doth protest too much me thinks,” it is true that many LGBT activists have wrongfully pointed the finger at the innocent religions of the world. As we all know, religion has never resulted in any violent act or atrocity as religion is about love and goodness. Such would never result in things like the crusades, the September 11th attacks, concentration camps or the witch hunts.
But even though Mission America, Pat Robertson or any of the other folks that believe themselves superior to “our kind” are not to blame, there is someone to carry the burden. Me.
When it gets down to the heart of the issue, I failed these kids. I failed these kids because I spent 10 years as an openly gay man doing nothing, saying nothing and living complacently while these groups and/or individuals continued to actively pursue demonizing LGBT people (or again, the action of being gay). I sat by and let Matthew Shepard, Brandon Teena, Gwen Araujo, Paul Broussard, Steen Fenrich, Ronnie Paris, Jason Gage, Sakia Gunn, Michael Sandy, Angie Zapata, James Zappaloti, Arthur Warren, Barry Winchell, Rebecca Wight, Sean Kennedy and countless others be murdered without speaking up. I was afraid, which is exactly what they want us to be.
Perhaps had I spoken up I could have changed one person’s mind about LGBT people. Instead of believing LGBT people should be murdered, the person would have seen that we are human too – that when you prick us, we bleed. Perhaps that person would have changed another person’s mind, and another, and another – and eventually that mind changing would have trickled through to the black-clad man who thought it better to murder LGBT youth than to be one, thought himself superior to those whose lives he took, to those he hurt, to those that still hurt.
Liz and Nir are still dead. I can’t undo history or my regrets. None of us can, but we can change the future. It’s time that we all learn to speak out against the teachings of inferiority. It’s time we all stand together and say – We’re here to protect our children.