This isn’t a religious issue for me. God is Love, and Allah is merciful, so the Orlando massacre must have nothing to do with either of them. It was just good ole fashioned hatred and ignorance. A man was so disturbed at the sight of two men showing affection that he purchased a weapon of war (legally, despite a history of violence) and transformed a place of celebration and joy into an abattoir. An unhappy and unwell man shot down a rainbow on Sunday morning because he could not stand it.
What happened to this man? Would nobody hold his hand? How did he come to a place where he could justify the merciless slaughter of over 50 people and the irreparable lifelong damage to the lives of another 50 people? How did he become so dislocated from his humanity? How devoid of empathy and love such a heart must be. How broken and shattered to be able to willingly harm so many others. Even if he was not dead, the remainder of his life would be a pitiful ruin too. No joy and no justice could come from his actions.
I am continents away, but the earth shakes beneath my feet, and the gunfire rings in my ears all the way from Orlando. It could have been me - easily. Here in Joburg dancing my heart out last Friday in Illovo. We’re not all that far apart.
But I will not allow this man to stop my music, and neither will my dancing and laughter grind to a halt. That is how I fought to feel good about myself and how I will continue to celebrate the beauty of who and what I am.
The first place out of the closet that I felt surefooted as a young one, was on a dance floor. This is where I found my freedom. The mixture of my sweat and the music created a healing tincture that made me feel I belonged, that I mattered, and that I was not merely acceptable, I was fabulous! The beat brought us all together in a frenzy of love, unity and Gloria Gaynor lyrics. Bronx, Angels, Detour and O Bar, these sacred sights of mirth and music where I stepped closer to a better sense of self with every dance step. Here I rhythmically shook off every “faggot” slur and “moffie” tag that I had been branded with.
Mariah, Mary, Whitney, Britney, Madonna and Janet, with Michael, George, Elton and eventually Adam, Sam and Adele cheerleading my hard-won victories over low self-esteem and self-inflicted prejudice. I sang and jived myself up to higher levels of self-worth. I learned to love the “strange” way that I am born to love.
I will not stop dancing. Even though I will never again be able to hear a house beat without thinking of a gun shot, I will STILL get down and dance. That has not been shot and killed. I will continue to dance for myself, and I will dance to honour the dead.
I will be #BraveEnough to dance at LGBTQ* events and venues, because I know that when I become too afraid to get together with others like me and too afraid to move myself to music, then I will indeed be oppressed. F%# @ that! I will dance.