Thoughts and prayers.

“Since 1970 more Americans have died from guns than all the Americans who died in all the wars in American history.”

It makes me just as sick to see the countless “thoughts and prayers” immediately after a tragedy, as it does to think about the countless tragedies that happen in the United States every day because of guns.

We send “thoughts and prayers” in new directions every day, but rarely do they result in actions being done to prevent the tragedy at hand. Gun violence, hurricanes, earthquakes, health crises…the list goes on.

At 25 years old, there have been over a handful of “worst mass shootings in United States history” in my lifetime.

Columbine.

Virginia Tech.

Aurora.

Sandy Hook.

Orlando.

Las Vegas.

And because I’m from Oregon I won’t forget to list the 2015 shooting at Umpqua Community College, which killed nine people.

Frankly, I have had enough. I am tired. I am angry. I am confused.

And I am at a loss of what to do.

Clearly I am not in any position to dictate policy since I’m not in public office, calling my senators and congressman only gets me so far because I’m lucky enough to live in a place where they already agree with me, and fighting with people on the internet…well, I think you can finish that sentence for yourself. So right now I have chosen to shout into the void. Fight with me if you want. Call me an idiot libtard snowflake. Once you’ve lost friends and family and had to adjust your life significantly after an election result, or let’s be honest once you hit a certain number of Twitter followers, you stop caring about that shit anymore.

Honestly, getting called names doesn’t hurt half as much as the fact that these kinds of tragedies prove, without a shadow of a doubt, that you cannot make anyone care about you. Your humanity. What makes you special. Why you are worthy of love. You cannot force anyone to understand empathy.

2016’s PULSE Nightclub massacre in Orlando was particularly heartbreaking for me in that it was around the time I was toying with the idea of being more open with my bisexuality. Maybe it’s because I was living in the progressive haven that is Los Angeles. Maybe it was because our political climate hadn’t completely exploded yet. I don’t know. But as soon as I woke up one Sunday morning to the news that nearly 50 queer people had been killed–intentionally targeted–at a gay club the night before, I swan dived right back into the closet.

I was faced head on with the notion that there were people out there who wanted me dead just for being me. And not just me, hundreds of thousands of others. I began to notice people’s covert homophobia emerging as they sent out “thoughts and prayers” to the victims, then turned around and voted for political candidates who wanted to undo every LGBT+ right we’ve ever been given, then turned around again to tell me they loved me.

I had no idea who to trust, and I felt powerless, because no matter how many times I stood in front of someone (either literally or figuratively online) and screamed: THIS IS ME. I AM QUEER AS THE DAY IS LONG. THIS ATTACK WAS AGAINST PEOPLE LIKE ME. PEOPLE MORE MARGINALIZED THAN ME. THIS IS US. DO SOMETHING TO HELP US. LOVE US ENOUGH TO HELP US. WE MATTER TOO.

…here we are.

You cannot make anyone care about you. Or at least, understand how their political actions affect people like you, and and ultimately prove at a higher, more indirect level how much they care about you.

I wish that a human life could matter more the millions of dollars given to politicians by the National Rifle Association. I wish I could understand, even at the most minuscule of levels, how people can cling to their guns even harder after a tragedy like this, meanwhile I’d just assume throw mine into the depths of Mount Doom. How am I supposed to know that you’re the “good guy with a gun?” After all, isn’t that the way it’s supposed to work? A “good guy with a gun” would have been able to stop all these massacres from happening?

Where is the good guy, and why is he always too late?

In all honesty, I don’t give a flying fuck about your so-called “Second Amendment rights.” I care about human lives. Historically speaking, that amendment was written hundreds of years ago, when guns held one bullet at a time and shot about once every 20 seconds. The only reason that language is even relevant to today is because we allow it to be. The NRA wants to scare you into believing it has to be. If there were ever a politician running for office who called for the complete and total recall of all guns, of all types, I would vote for them in a heartbeat. Will that ever happen? Probably not. Will I abstain from voting entirely because a candidate supports “gun control” rather than the complete and total recall of all guns? No.

There is a lot going on in our country right now that upsets me. Like a grief-anger-fear combo in my chest that never goes away. Guns take the cake, because there is literally no reason this keeps happening other than power, money, and misplaced fear.

And the fact that you cannot make anyone care about you.

I want to end this with a few more things. First, here are a few photos:

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Each of these pictures are from trips to Las Vegas in 2014 and 2015. The top two are from my walks up and down the Strip, playing tourist while my friends slept in, recuperating from a night out. The bottom two are from a Walk the Moon concert at the Las Vegas House of Blues, and then from the Hakkasan Nightclub inside the MGM Grand Hotel.

Each a unique experience.

As a woman, I took precautions before each of those scenarios. Carry my purse over my shoulder and in front of me; stay away from sketchy side-streets; wear nylons under the mini-skirt (although ultimately, that had not stopped the man who decided to grope me against my will); don’t drink too much.

What I never thought about, was the idea that in any of those places, someone would come at me with a firearm, because honestly I have no idea how any of us would have gotten out of that nightclub alive if they did.

Maybe the good guy would have finally showed up. I now consider it by the grace of God that I didn’t have to find out.

Secondly, today, consider donating your money or your time. Here is a link with some suggestions: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/how-to-help-vegas-shooting-victims_us_59d2387ae4b09538b5098906

Some of these include ways to donate blood, money, crisis counseling, and finally, calling your congressman and encouraging them to fight for some sensible gun control.

You make the choice to turn a blind eye to tragedy just because it doesn’t affect you.

Be better than that, because not all of us are afforded the privilege.

xoxo,

Erin

P.S. Please don’t forget about Puerto Rico as well: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/can-help-hurricane-victims-puerto-rico/ 

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