Orlando: Phoenix Rising

From the ashes of destruction, so the legend goes, rises the Phoenix, renewed and reborn.

The horrible, burning agony—physical and emotional—of the tragedy in Orlando will give rise to a glorious spirit. We can see it appearing already.

Since the Stonewall riots of 1969, the spirit within LGBTQ people has been glowing brighter and stronger every year. The last few years have been the most remarkable yet, because the spirit has been spreading to people who are becoming advocates.

More Advocates Every Day

[Long lines of people donating blood (no gay men if they've had sex w/in 12 months)]

[Long lines of people donating blood (no gay men if they've had sex w/in 12 months)]

These advocates are not LGBTQ themselves, but are people who will pass and support laws protecting the rights of all citizens; people who will stand on a stage and speak or sing in praise of the LGBTQ spirit and the people possessing it; people who write stories about the lives of LGBTQ individuals; and people who will stand in line for hours, in the rain, to give blood that’s badly needed after the massacre, blood that gay men are not allowed to contribute.

[Think "Stonewall." Think "gay=illegal." Now, think "police." See the change?]

[Think "Stonewall." Think "gay=illegal." Now, think "police." See the change?]


Advocates Are Everywhere

All over the world—from New York to Los Angeles to London to Tel Aviv to Paris to Sydney to Brisbane to Wellington and back to Nashville and Boston, we see massive crowds—we hear song and encouragement, we see structures lit in the glory of rainbow colors.

World leaders from Belgium to Norway to Mexico and even Afghanistan have expressed encouragement,  support—and solidarity. The Council on American-Muslim Relations has condemned the shooting and repudiate violence against the LGBTQ community.

Ten years ago I would have said there would not be marriage equality in the U.S. during my lifetime. Last month I would not have expected the kind of response we see to the tragedy in Orlando, either in the U.S. or from around the globe. Last week I would not have believed that Disney, that bastion of “family values,” would take a stand for the LGBTQ community—but they have.

And then there's the wall of love made up of people who placed themselves physically between the funerals and memorial ceremonies of the Orlando victims so that the miserable Westboro Baptist Church couldn't get near them with their messages of hatred.

There is still a lot of work to do in the area of rights and acceptance, as evident when we see public "leaders" offering prayers and nothing else while lining their pockets with money from the National Rifle Association and preventing any research into gun usage and death. And we've heard from way, way too many nutjobs saying "the gays deserved what they got."

The more progress we make, the bigger the pushback from homophobic bigots will get. But we also see that as of Friday, June 17, a GoFundMe project to collect money that will go directly to the victims’ families and survivors of the Orlando massacre has broken all records on the website and as of this writing has received over $5 million, and it's climbing.

From the ashes of the Orlando shooting, we can see the first signs of the glorious Phoenix. It will not be the first time that bird has risen from the ashes of LGBTQ persecution, but it will be the first time the rebirth encompasses millions of advocates who see—finally—that we are all one people. It’s the first time the LGBTQ community will not be so very alone in its struggle for acceptance. It’s the first time that beautiful, multi-colored emblem—the rainbow—has been displayed so widely, so proudly, and so openly.

So as we grieve for the loss of life and support the survivors and families, through our tears let’s be sure we don’t miss the Phoenix rising.