I was in the Laugh Factory here in LA when I found out. The group I was with was making We are Orlando signs and I thought it was strange because I thought it was about the singer who was just shot the other night in Orlando, I hadn’t yet heard. I had been busy putting rainbow eyeshadow on my eyes, securing my tiara, and going over the dance routines for the parade to turn on the news that morning. But I quickly learned that the signs were not strange at all. Our community had been attacked. I was devastated.
But the PRIDE parade preparations continued and we went to the queue area. Then I started to get texts from friends and family asking if I was safe. That’s how I found out that LA PRIDE had been targeted. That they caught someone with a car full of explosives and ammunition headed our way. I thought about going home. I imagined Boston. But then I saw the increased LAPD presence, I got assurance and encouragement from my group’s security team, and I was reminded that the point of PRIDE isn’t just a celebration but a chance to stand together. This was my second time in the LA PRIDE parade and I was ready for the protesters with their little area along the route with their signs and bullhorns chanting we’re all going to hell. I was ready for hate. I know that we’ve come a long way; marriage equality is the law of the land but I know we have a long way to go; conversation therapy is still legal in most states.
I danced my way through West Hollywood again living my dream of being a professional parade dancer. It was a mile of fun and joy and rainbows and connection. Like I’ve said here before after the Paris attacks– art heals. Music and dancing heals. After the parade I went and got Hawaiian BBQ (rainbows aren’t just for LGBTQA) and settled in to watch the Tony’s. I watch the Tony’s every year because I love theatre. I felt it and I saw so many of my friend’s and the world’s reaction to the Tony’s – it was healing. Art heals. There were beautiful acceptance sonnets and songs that had nothing to do with the day’s tragedy. They all helped.
Over the past couple of days I’ve watched the late show anchors and the newscasters react and share and try to find away to talk about this again. Many pointed to the blood drives and the people who lined up around the block to donate. Giving back is a way to heal. Few pointed out that male homosexuals aren’t able to donate. Few pointed out that the people who donated blood last week in Orlando, on just a normal day as something they do, were lifesavers. I hear the stories on the news of the survivors and I’m devastated.
This week I’m wearing a rainbow lapel pin. It feels to me to match the flags flying at half-staff; a gesture of respect. The fight and the celebration continue.