I went to a vigil at the Center for Civil and Human Rights for those slain in the Pulse massacre on Tuesday. I went because Topaz wanted to go, and didn't realize ahead of time but I was expecting it to be dissatisfying and maybe terrible, whitewashed normative cis gay stuff that was all fluff and no meaning. I have not had good experiences at any mass gathering and I expected this to be no different.
Instead, it was profoundly beautiful and very nourishing and actually gave me hope. It was held outdoors despite occasional rain, because there were more than 2,500 people there. It wasn't perfect of course but it had so few sour notes. I was overwhelmed with pride in my city over the fact that we were represented in our diversity -- and not as an afterthought, but truly throughout. The speakers were varied, with Latinx, Black, Muslim, Indigenous, Trans, Two-Spirit, & Jewish speakers as well as white Christian ones. There was Spanish translation over the same audio system (and one speaker spoke in Spanish followed by English translation) and there was ASL interpretation. One person from an Atlanta Muslim organization told us about reaching out to the LGBTQ community in Atlanta and being met with reciprocal concern (that people would use this as fuel for islamophobia) -- hearing that made me cry. And having Amina Abdul-Jalil, a Black, queer, Muslim woman, speak to us was a moment of profound hope for me because I felt such a kinship with her rareness and how she spoke of being rejected from each group for being part of another. "I know what it’s like to feel like you have to choose," she said, and my breath caught with such strong resonance. She also said that prayer was great, but "the work starts after the amen and after the ameen," and we all applauded.
I was also deeply moved and very grateful for the words of Two-Spirit Collective activist & Lambda legal organizer Holiday Simmons, who said "Remember, it was our Christian siblings who wiped out indigenous people in the U.S." It needed to be said, considering that people keep calling this the worst mass shooting in US history when in fact we've done far worse to Native peoples and to Black people. (Pulse Massacre Horrible. Not Largest Mass Shooting in US History. by Sam Diener) Simmons also said "We want to be mindful of using this word 'terrorist.' While in fact this was an act of terror, such words have become inflammatory in these times, and they only strengthen public Islamophobic sentiment."
Some articles with more info: Atlanta Vigil Held Tuesday To Honor Orlando Shooting Victims by Mary Claire Kelly (this one has some wonderful quotes from the speakers at the end). Atlanta 'We Are Orlando' Vigil Conveyed Message Of Inclusion by Lisa Hagen (this one has the quotes from Amina Abdul-Jalil). Atlantans say 'We are Orlando,' demand Pulse shooting not contribute to bigotry by Camille Pendley (this one has the quotes from Holiday Simmons).
I went with Topaz and Serenity, and we met up with Hope and Allison and two of Topaz' relatives. Allison gave me hugs and pets when I got so overwhelmed that I started crying. I felt so full of love and connection and hope at an event with literal thousands of people. I've never felt anything like that except at TBC, and I have never felt that on that scale. I am so grateful to the organizers, so grateful to the speakers, so grateful to Topaz for driving us and paying for parking, because otherwise I could not have gone.