They sashay past us on the dance floor. One man is dressed in cowboy boots, Wrangler jeans, and a black hat, and his partner looks a little like he walked in from a day of surfing, sun-bleached hair and all.
The cowboy and the surfer glided across the floor like Gene Kelley and Fred Astaire. We, however, haven’t even figured out who should lead. She and I do a lot of toe-stepping while we learn what two-stepping feels like like for middle-aged women who have, up until now, danced with men.
Last summer, my girl and I spent several Thursday nights at a gay country bar. They offer free dance lessons at the beginning of the evening, and since we both love to dance—and love each other—this made the perfect date night. Our height difference, lack of tempo, and bruised toes didn’t matter. Not to us. Not to the other queer couples.
I can’t imagine one of those nights ending with a brutal massacre.
Actually, I can. As the details pour in about the Pulse shooting, the more I realize that any one of our Thursday-night dates could have ended in a hate-filled bloodbath. Our bodies could be two of the 49 strewn about the floor, phones ringing in our pockets as our loved ones try in vain to make sure we’re still alive. Our children could be mourning the loss of their mothers. That could have been our public kiss that transmogrified the shooter from bigot to murderer.
That. Is. Horrifying.
The queer in me screams, “Fuck fear. I will not live with that tether.”
But, there’s another part of me—the mother who has kids along the LGBTQ+ spectrum—that threatens to collapse under the weight of anxiety and terror.
How many more mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, daughters, sons, best friends, neighbors, fellow human beings have to die before something changes? When will our silent allies fight alongside of us? When will our vocal allies lift up our queer voices instead of tell their versions of our stories? When will our churches stop perpetuating the vitriolic “love the sinner hate the sin”?
I’m tired of asking these questions. My community is tired of begging for answers. We’re tired. Tired and scared.
And, frankly, I don’t have time for fear. I don’t have time to be tired. I’m marrying my girl soon, and we still can’t dance like the cowboy and the surfer.