Killing Us Slowly

In the wee hours of Sunday morning, while listening to the slow motion horror unfolding on the Orlando fire rescue scanner, I sent out a tweet saying that I didn’t want conservative tears because they want us dead, this guy just followed through.

I could wrap this piece in flowery language, beat around the bush and put things gently to carefully convey my emotions about what happened at Pulse, but instead I want to take the façade off and focus on that single concentrated expression of pain that came from my heart as my heart was
breaking.

You’re killing us.

Just as surely as the shooter whose name I will not utter, you’re taking our lives. You haven’t loaded up an AR-15 and started mowing people down, you didn’t have to. The hatred in your hearts—and make no mistake. Jesus said that if you hate someone it is as if you murdered them in your heart—that hatred is killing us slowly.

To the PCA pastor who told me that he was still going to keep preaching that our lives and our loves are a sin, even knowing that it was a message that drove kids to suicide, because to do otherwise would compromise the gospel, you’re killing us.

To the PCA elder and now retired county attorney for a Florida county that shall remain unnamed, when you declared that it would be more merciful if God would just call gay people home because then they couldn’t keep sinning, you’re killing us. Under the logic of that brand of theology, the shooter at Pulse was an agent of God’s mercy, snuffing out lives before they could sin any more. That’s a theology that’s killing us.

To the politicians who campaign on a platform of denying us civil rights, you’re killing us.

To the people sitting in your churches nodding along as your pastors preach that we’re abominations, that our marriages are destroying marriage, that using the bathroom is a danger to women and children, you’re killing us.

To the politicians sharing the stage with Kevin Swanson as he preaches that after giving us time to repent, the government should start executing us, you’re killing us.

To the denominations, the pastors, the churches, the Christian magazines who remain silent when men like Kevin Swanson call for our deaths—I’m looking at you OPC, and you, WORLD Magazine—who treat it as a mere theological disagreement, you’re killing us.

To the leadership at my alma mater, Covenant College, who decided that having freshmen spend a day of class debating whether R.J. Rushdoony was right and we should stone queer people and rebellious children, you’re killing us.

To all the pastors who teach that God fried Sodom and Gomorrah because of the “sin” of homosexuality, thinking nothing of, or maybe especially thinking of, the vulnerable children sitting in your pews, you’re killing us.

To Steve Taylor, the Christian artist whose music was the soundtrack of my teen years, and who has never publicly repudiated the lyrics, “I heard the reverend say/gay is probably normal in the good Lord’s sight/well if the Lord don’t care and he chooses to ignore ya/tell it to the people of Sodom
and Gomorrah,” lyrics I can still recite by heart, your failure to publicly apologize for those words is killing us. The fact that I can go and buy that song for $1.29 from the Play Store right now is killing us. I’ve told myself that my hurt over that song is unwarranted because you probably don’t believe
it anymore, but you’ve still never apologized for it, and that’s killing us.

To the homeschool leaders who told parents to homeschool because it was a way to shelter their children from the “homosexual agenda,” you’re killing us.

To all the churches and all the Christians who spent the ‘80s and the better part of the ‘90s declaring that AIDS was a judgment from God that we should welcome, you killed us then and you’re killing us now. It was only just this afternoon, as Pat Robertson and the two bit nobodies who I won’t name
because I won’t make them famous, all got their two cents in about how this shooting was killing all the right people that I realized that I carry the deep scars and trauma of a childhood spent hearing that we’re so loathsome that God sent a plague. In more ways than one, you’re killing us.

To the churches that excommunicate us, that let us in the door but refuse us full participation, that say they love us while doing everything to show they hate us, you’re killing us.

To all the individuals of any faith or no faith who call us slurs, who call us pedophiles, who go to the ballot box to take away our rights, you’re killing us.

To the churches who hold vigils for dead queer people who you would never allow to join your church, you’re killing us.

To every person who has ever said that queer people are wrong, mentally ill, broken, sick, abnormal, dangerous, predatory, who has in big ways and small ways shown that we’re lesser and not fully human, you’re killing us.

To the Christian colleges who fight for the right to discriminate against their LGBT students, you’re killing us.

To the schools and businesses and government agencies and churches that ban trans people from bathrooms, you’re killing us.

This is just the list that’s come to my head in the fifteen minutes that I’ve sat here writing, and it’s no way an exhaustive list of all the ways that homophobia, transphobia, and queerphobia in our society is killing us. Every single queer person in this country grows up in a culture that, to one degree or another, tells us that our lives are not worth living, a culture that wants us dead.

So no, I don’t want your tears. Your actions have spoken for you. You’re killing us and you don’t care. Instead of your tears, show me you’ve changed. Because until you do, the only difference between you and the Pulse shooter is one of time. The blood of the Pulse victims is on your hands for creating a climate of homophobia and hatred. The blood of all the queer people who have committed suicide because they could not bear the weight of the hatred is on your hands. The blood of all the queer people who have been murdered over the years for who they are—queer people who are disproportionately trans women of color, mind you—is on your hands. In big ways and small you’ve shown that you want us dead, the Pulse shooter just did your dirty work for you.

We’re not going to go away that easily though. The last few days have made it clear that coming out is still an act of defiance in the face of a world that wants us dead. Pride is still subversive, defiant, standing firm against the idea that we should hate ourselves as much as they hate us.

We’re not going away.

We’re here, we’re queer, and it’s way past time you got used to it.