Monday, June 13, 2016

Seattle Goes Half-Staff for Orlando

Last night here in Seattle, Anne and I went to the vigil for the LGBTQ people massacred in Orlando.  The mayor and the governor spoke, a chorus sang while we all held candles or flashlight apps, and people cried.

A woman saw Anne's tear-streaked face as we were leaving.  She said she thought strangers should hug each other, so she hugged my wife.  Under these circumstances, I couldn't have mustered jealousy if I'd tried.

Anne was struck, and pleased, by how many young gay men were in attendance.  I was struck by the number of people who carried signs or wore shirts warning against Islamophobia.  Kudos to my fellow Seattleites for their awareness of that danger in the midst of grief.

One of the speakers might have been made for this moment.  Sonja Basha said, "The Muslim community and LGBT community are not separate; we mourn together.  I am Muslim, I am queer and I exist."

Today this is what Seattle's most iconic symbol looks like:

A half-staff Needle.

Today's Seattle Times devoted the whole front page to the "nation's worst shooting."  I opened the paper and found nestled inside a pull-out ad for Stop Bullets Now.  A gun-control group?  Not even close.  It's a company that flogs bulletproof backpacks and car seats and gym bags.  "Mass shootings and gun-related accidents are on the rise," the ad declared.  "Don't risk your children's lives anymore."

No doubt business jumped after Saturday night.

As I drove Anne to work early today, she told me that her sister Holli had just texted her.  It seems our seven-year-old niece, Madison, watched the news about Orlando this morning, and told Holli that today would be a good day for rain because so many people died.  She said she wished there would be a big rainbow that would raise them all from the dead.

Spoken like a true Washingtonian who's seen a lot of rain and knows that rainbows follow.  What Madison doesn't know is the connection between gays and rainbows.  But Anne does, and Madison's words had her crying again. 

I should've gotten that stranger's number last night--in the weeks ahead, hugs will be needed aplenty.