“There was every reason that we would have been at Pulse that night”

Content Notice: Zinnia mentions some of the more morally bankrupt virulently transphobic comments she received, and they are nasty. She is also discussing the shooting in Orlando, Florida, where 49 Queers, mostly Latinx, were murdered.

Zinnia Jones recently shared a post about how she was planning to attend Pulse the night of the Orlando shooting, and only decided otherwise because of sheer dumb luck.

I wanted to share it, in part because I’ve experienced clueless cishets in my life who didn’t understand why Queers were so viscerally affected even if they lived on the other side of the world. Hopefully this helps them understand.

The next day, I accompanied Heather as she went downtown on writing assignments fromPlayboy and The Daily Beast. This is just what she and I do: when these things happen in our lives, we cover them for the world. We attended the vigil in a park surrounded by skyscrapers – helicopters circled overheard and we could clearly see a number of police snipers positioned on rooftops. We later attended a funeral service and listened to a man who was at Pulse break down sobbing as he eulogized his mother, who had helped him get to safety before she was killed. Everyone Heather spoke with had either lost someone at Pulse, or knew someone else who did. This is what those outside the queer community might not understand: we have only 2 or 3 degrees of separation. This was so imminent, so present, there was no way to turn away from it.

I want to point out that throughout this, there was no cessation in the constant stream of YouTube comments and tweets telling me that who I am is wrong, or that I’m in the grips of some sort of delusional illness, or that I’m somehow a threat to society. Instead, many more people now made sure to wish that I had been at Pulse that night.

I’d like them to know that I wouldn’t wish this experience on anyone. No one should have to feel what it’s like to wait out the seconds as you refresh a web page, knowing that you might be about to find out your friends are dead. No one should have to wake up crying from nightmares so close to reality that you can’t dismiss them as absurd. No one should have to bear the brutal knowledge that they are a target.

There are people in this country right now with the motivation to follow through on killing me and Heather and Penny, on slaughtering my community by the dozens. I look for the exits everywhere we go, whether it’s a club, a theater, or even a bookstore. I think about where we would take cover, and tell Heather and Penny that if anything happens, they need to run and not wait for me. I shouldn’t have to do this – I don’t want to be doing this. I don’t want to have to think of what they would do without me or what I would do without them, every day, everywhere I go. But I can’t wake up from this, because this is my reality.

“But I can’t wake up from this, because this is my reality.”

I fumble for words to describe this feeling. Nothing quite adequately captures it. “Rest in power” seems so vulgar, so inadequate, so incomplete, to truly capture the myriad of problems that led to this. And still, we cannot be left in silence to mourn and contemplate. Our grief is merely a political football for others to use as they see fit. Never valid on its own unless it justifies further acts of violence.