I write this post in sadness, shock, and anger. I am struggling to find the words to express how I feel.
On Sunday night I was relaxing after an enjoyable and active weekend much of which was spent updating my wardrobe with some new summer outfits when after having some down time I switched on my phone to check my Facebook and Twitter to check what was happening in the world and was greeted by the news of yet another massacre in the United States this time in Orlando. This massacre was so horrific it stunned me in to silence. Now as any of my friends will tell you this is not easy to do bit but such was the devastation caused by this attack it achieved the almost impossible.
You see there are some things for which there are no words and this was definitely one of those occasions. On Saturday night in the sunshine state of Florida clubbers gathered to celebrate the beginning of the pride season. Unfortunately for the regulars in one the city’s gay bars who were enjoying what we in Glasgow would call a night at the dancing their night and in many cases their lives were cut cruelly short as a laughing gunman burst in to the Pulse nightclub and started an indiscriminate shooting spree in which he killed 50 people and injured a further 53 in the eyes of this gunman the people he shot had committed a crime that crime was being gay.
This by any stretch of the imagination is a truly sickening act the depravity of which is beyond all human comprehension. On a personal level it also strikes very close to home. You see, as a transsexual woman I have close ties to the Glasgow LGBT community. It was in the likes of Polo, Delmonicas locally known as Del’s, and the ill fated LGBT centres in both Dixon Street and Bell Street that I first felt confident enough to be myself and I discovered that to paraphrase the words of Katie Perry there was
nothing wrong with kissing boys and liking it despite what my puritanical presbyterian instincts might have been attempting tell to me. It is because I was made to feel welcomed and included in this diverse community that I now live happily as the woman I always knew myself to be and am an active campaigner for the right to equal love. To me this is not just an equal right it’s a human right and it is a right which no one should have the right to take away.
Thankfully however, I live in Scotland where those with these kind of extremist views are largely ignored or ridiculed. Unfortunately or indeed tragically this is not the case in the so-called land of the free where the right to own a gun is deemed to be more important than a National Health Service or the right to express your sexual orientation or gender identity in public. No doubt some people will say that for every Orlando there a dozen New York’s or San Francisco’s where the social and political climates are of a more liberal view. I counter this by saying that for every New York or San Francisco there are a dozen Alabama’s and North Carolina’s where regressive anti LGBT laws have recently been passed and this has resulted in a dramatic rise in LGBT related hate crimes of which Orlando is the most shocking example.
It does however have to be said that these kind of barbaric acts do not happen in isolation, they happen because the political establishment either cannot or will not challenge the prejudices that lead to them. Without this institutionalised challenge the attitudes which led to the Orlando Massacre will continue and maybe even flourish. This cannot and must not be allowed to continue if America wants to call itself a civilised society.
When I was a teenager growing up in the Scotland of the 1970’s I often felt constrained by my country’s socially and culturally conservative values and wished that I lived in the United States which was held up as a beacon of glamour and this wonderful land where everyone’s dreams could come true. Now as I read of these unspeakable atrocities I am glad my teenage dreams didn’t come true
Now 40 years later in my mid fifties rather than my mid teens I realise that this was all an illusion and that in many ways Scotland is a better place to live than the USA ever was or ever will be for trans woman like myself. Yes it’s true to say we have our problems but last night as I watched Glasgow stand with Orlando and see the rainbow flag fly over our city chambers I was proud to call my city home.
As a trans woman myself I know the importance of fighting for my rights, and those of others. It was great to see so many of my fellow Glaswegians standing in solidarity with the LGBT citizens of Florida.
As for the night itself, it was both emotional and dignified as we paid our respects to the fallen.
The Youth Of Glasgow Stand With Orlando.
This is a picture of Carl who told me that he identifies as Queer and since his move to Glasgow he has learned that many locals pronounce his name as Carol. This however doesn’t seem to bother this likable gender non binary individual who won’t accept any kind of labels which others may use to make him fit in their boxes. I say good on you Carl/Carol.
The Banner spells the one word we as LGBT Glaswegians want for our city and for our rainbow family in every nation on earth.
Dear right wing/fundamentalists we reject the idea that Muslims were to blame for this attack.
The facts are that it was a combination of the ready availability of guns in the United States and the passing of anti LGBT legislation which has led to prejudice against the LGBT community which created the conditions for this carnage and to say otherwise is to deny reality.
This picture reinforces the message that Glasgow Stands With Orlando
If we couldn’t get Kylie to sing the crowd we got the next best thing a highly chatty Aussie by the name of Natalie who could easily be her double. Natalie was originally from Glasgow but has spent most of her life in Australia and moved back home because she fell in love with a Glasgow girl.
The final picture shows Keira and Matt and I had to get a picture of them as soon as I saw the contrast in height as it was a cracking way to end the photographic collage. You see by showing that Glaswegians and Scots like everyone else come in all shapes and sizes, I hope I am also making a political statement that we are a city and a nation who accepts and embraces all cultures and sexual orientations/identities. Indeed that it is the way it should be not only in Glasgow or Scotland but everywhere on earth.
Last night I was proud of both my city and my country and more than that I was proud of the LGBT community and the way we conducted ourselves. On many occasions our community have gathered in George Square as part of our pride celebrations. This occasion however was rather more somber as we remembered the tragedy of lives cut brutally short. That said it is I believe fitting that in the place where we have so often partied and just yards from our rainbow village we held our heads high to honour the dead as Glasgow choose pride over prejudice.
Love And Best Wishes