I haven’t said anything about the massacre in Orlando because I can’t articulate this tight feeling in my chest and the weight around my ears. I’m worried I’ll say the wrong thing, and I know whatever I’ll say will be inadequate.
I found out right as I was arriving home from dancing my ass off all night at Bowie Vs Prince – I got home at 5AM, a time when I’m normally waking up, the sky already light. I was exhausted, having spent hours running around in flaming spandex and 5″ heels in a warehouse packed with sparkling, dancing, singing gender-benders. We had danced and rode all over town- in celebration of our queerness, our flamboyancy, in celebration of the life of two gender-bending patriarchs. We danced in the spotlights of a brand new bridge, the river reflecting back our own lights.
At 5AM, my NPR app told me “Large casualties at a shooting in a nightclub in Orlando” and I was too tired to read the story before rubbing the makeup off my face and collapsing into bed. I’d find out in the morning.
When I woke, the sparkles were pressed into the pillow lines on my cheeks.
I found out that it was a gay night club.
I found out it was latin night.
I found out that 49 were dead.
I found out that 50 more were fighting for their lives.
And – well- it could’ve been me. It could’ve been any of my friends.
It could’ve been at Bowie Vs Prince. But it also could’ve been any night at Dockside, at Jacobs, at Blitz, at CC Slaughters, at Girlstown, at Lick, at the E Room, at The Lexington. Gay nightclubs were always a place to find community, even in a foreign city, even where I knew no one. I’ve danced in gay nightclubs in 12 countries. I’ve spent 3 Christmases in gay clubs, because it’s a place to be among friends even when you’re among strangers. The gay clubs are the first place I look up when I stay in a new city.
Queer as Folk ended on the note of the “thumpa thumpa” – the pulse of the gay club, as home for queers, as a symbol for the heart of the queers – their perseverance. In the closing scene of the series, the two main characters dance in a bombed-out gay night club, and the voiceover says:
“The thumpa thumpa continues…it always will, no matter what happens, no matter who’s president. As our lady of disco, the divine Ms Gloria Gainer, has always sung to us – we will survive.”
It’s sadly prophetic that Queer as Folk, 11 years ago, prepared us for the reality that the queer community would have a hate crime with massive casualties in a night club, the heart of the young queer community. Remember – this was a hate crime against queers, more specifically, queer people of color. And we can honor their names and their lives in the best way we know how- by dancing together and proud. It isn’t frivolous – it’s the best way to keep fighting.
We will remember you, victims at Pulse. And we will keep the dance going on for you, because the thumpa-thumpa must continue. It has to.