#StandWithOrlando Words Fail Me.

Orlando victims

Words fail me. I've said that phrase so many times in the past few months and especially since Sunday in the wake of the Orlando massacre. 

I write a blog, weekly I do so much other writing in various genres, and I teach writing, but lately it seems that the the situation that should inspire the writing moves beyond words. And I'm not a visual-oriented person, so I'm not really adept at welding words to images or just using images to express an idea or feeling. Again, words fail me. 

(And thank you, Dame Maggie Smith, for giving me that phrase you used indelibly in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel). 

Thus I'm not going to repeat what already has been said, currently being said, and will be said about the unspeakable evil and horror. CNN will do that for you. 

One story really stood out for me as I purposely let the images and words wash over me as the reporting on this incident unfolded. Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, mother of 11, 49 years old, was at the Pulse nightclub dancing with her gay son, Isaiah Henderson, age 21. According to the New York Daily News, Brenda saw the shooter point his weapon at them. She told her son to get down and took the bullet for him. 

Brenda Lee Marquez McCool

The obvious response: What mother would not give her life for this way for a child? Yes, the most primeval, powerful instinct was going on here. She died but in doing so made sure a part of her life survived. 

But how many parents who have rejected their LGBTQ children, especially those who do in the name of religion, would do the same? How many parents like this have actually treated said children as dead to them because of a belief system that relies on scapegoating victims and sacred violence? 

Brenda was a victim, but she broke through this mechanism by transcending that cycle of violence because she voluntarily gave her life for the life of another. 

And others in the club did the same, for complete strangers, but whom they saw as neighbors whom they should love as themselves. 

No one who died here was purposely and ultimately falsely seeking a martyrdom like the advocates of sacred violence often do, and none of the survivors are calling for new victims or scapegoats to appease them like one current politician is calling for. 

I've lost faith in a God we've made in our own image who creates destructive boundaries that are built on the sacrifice of victims, but I've learned from the victims and the survivors that we can create hope and love. “All God has is thee,” is an old Quaker saying. It's up to us to find God in each other. Let's start by really beating our swords into ploughshares and choosing life. 

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Remember the Pink Triangle

Remember the Pink Triangle


Some person (I was going to use a naughty word, but I am trying to remain calm) on the Huffington Post claimed that homosexuals started the Nazi Party. This type of ignorance (and this claim has been going around for some time, thanks to Scott Lively and others of his ilk) really makes my blood boil. It's the type of defamation that LGBT persons are still suffering from people like Scott Lively (again, I was going to use more naughty words), Bryan Fischer, and now Sally Kern of Oklahoma, who wants to allow people who may be against what they term sinful homosexual behavior (think: a certain type of Christian of the fundamentalist persuasion) to deny LGBT persons access to public services in her state, among other infamies. Check out this site for more information on Kern's bills.
Sally Kern


Ernest Rohm, one of the original compatriots of Hitler, was gay, but he did NOT start the party. And he and his cohorts were “purged” soon after Hitler took over because they Hitler saw them as a threat. He couldn't deal with what was developing into a possibly dangerous internal army (Rohm's Brown Shirts) rising up against him. And he before that point was pretty much willing to “look the other way” about Rohm's predilection for blond, “Aryan-looking” studs. Himmler was the one who pretty much decried Rohm's orientation and influenced Hitler to add gays to his list of Final Solution victims.

By the time the Holocaust was occurring, gays, according to the Nazi world view, had been deemed not acceptable humans. This view was based on their distorted eugenics; degenerate gay men (or lesbian women) could not produce future master race babies. Gays were sent to concentration camps and made to wear the pink triangle. Straight prisoners were encouraged to beat up on them, just as they often would have done in a non-prison setting. It's not clear how many LGBT persons were killed, but of the 5,000 to 15,000 incarcerated, as many as 60 percent may have died, according to one leading scholar.

Gays in concentration camps

And we also need to remember that the injustice continued for gay men especially after Hitler's defeat. Many gays who survived the horrors of Nazism still had to live lives of secrecy and continued persecution sometimes based on evidence found during the Nazi regime. Both Germanies (at that time) eventually overturned their “fornication between men” laws in 1957 (in the East) and 1969 (in the West).

We recently remembered the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, and we remember all the victims of the Nazis, but was also need to still remember that the Sally Kerns of the world are still perpetrating a similar mechanism of scapegoating those whom they see as threats to the supposed “purity” of their systems. In 1938, after the Kristallnacht pogrom, the Nazis pretty much denied the Jews basic public services in Germany.


In 2015, Sally Kern and other government officials in the United States now seek to do something similar, though many of them are probably operating under the different assumption held by her co-religionists that LGBTs offend by their behavior, not their genetic makeup.

Even though we now know Kern has withdrawn her offensive bills, the fact that people support her bills (and that she was even elected) really makes me both frightened as well as angry.


I think we all have to start not just throwing around this saying by Martin Niemoller as a cliché, but using it as a constant call to action, not just vigilance:






First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.


Martin Niemoller


Martin Niemoller


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