With the tragedy in Orlando, I’ve been feeling rather alone, despite a full house. My partner is straight and cisgender, my son is three, and my daughter seems distant about it having not truly engaged in the LGBTQ community beyond a few Pride parades. So I reached out to my neighbors online to see if anyone had planned a vigil or gathering to find solidarity. By the act of asking, one neighbor talked to the Unitarian pastor in our area and secured a location. A time has been set, and I’ll get the space I need to grieve. Yet I feel uneasy about it. If over a hundred people gathered as a supportive community were shot in what they thought was a safe space, how can any of us feel safe?
For my readers unaware, this mama is a pansexual, genderfluid woman. While many people we see in passing assume we’re a cisgender, heteronormative, monogamous couple, and we benefit from that assumption, going to any event with a specific focus on the LGBTQ community becomes a target. I’m grateful for the support my local community has shown, but I know there are plenty of people in our area who aren’t so understanding, who maybe think what’s happened is excusable or even desirable. If they exist, they’re being quiet in our online forum.
So, on Thursday evening, I’ll be visiting with my neighbors who share in the grief of this tragedy, and hoping the presumed safe space remains safe.
Since we don’t have cable, and all our media is from selected videos, the internet, and radio, my son hasn’t been exposed to it the way some young children have. I haven’t had to explain the hate in some people’s hearts yet. I haven’t had to explain the danger. But I’m one of the lucky few.
If you’re having to talk to your kids about these issues, speak honestly and from the heart. Keep it age appropriate. For a 4 year old I know, his mom talked about the man having a heart filled with hate instead of love; that four year old went on to ask his parents to keep love in his heart for him and he’d do the same for them.
For more discussion about LGBTQ issues, BrainPickings.com has an intriguing selection that includes the classics Heather Has Two Mommies and King & King within it. I definitely need to check out the Maurice Sendak book I’d never heard of before. Bustle.com also has an extensive list published the day after the tragedy, with a little crossover between the two, yet neither mention the charming Jacob’s Dress, which my son and I adored together.
If you’re close to someone who was harmed or killed in the massacre, or your sensitive children aren’t sure how to approach their grief, here’s a list of 64 books about grief in every flavor to help you navigate these vulnerable feelings.