By Barbara Winkes

First of all, thank you, Liz, for letting us share our thoughts here. I am angry. Tired of living in a world where every attempt to ask the hard questions, to put the pieces together, is met with the usual “it’s not the time.”

imgres-1There are patterns and facts. Almost every one of the criminals committing these unspeakable acts have a history of domestic violence or hate against women documented in a manifesto. What if society wasn’t contantly coddling and indulging those attitudes? What if it was safe for women to speak up, and those guilty of domestic violence couldn’t get a high-powered weapon as easily? What if we took hate against women more seriously, laws were better enforced and we didn’t tolerate any of it?

Imagine the break that would give to the LGBT community. If you think that one gender controlling the other, including the use of violence, and that is the only way to live – well, then your fragile ego will be shaken by the sight of two men – or women – kissing. I wish we could live in a world where individuals like that understood that they are wrong, that this is not an opinion they are entitled to, but something that needs to change.

Homophobia is always rooted in the hate against women, everything feminine and female, and the idea that patrarchy is the way people should live. In that worldview, there are only women or predators.

We need access to information, education and therapy for centuries to come. It makes me tired and – angry – that the goal, eradicating all harmful ideology, is not going to happen in my lifetime.

As a foreigner, I’ve often been hesitant to wade into the gun control debate, but there is a point when you can’t ignore the numbers and facts anymore. There will always be violent people with an intent to do harm. They will do it in other ways, but what if they couldn’t easily get access to assault weapons? What if a knife is all they can get? Yes, they can do harm, but not that much in such little time. That is a fact.

I’ve been following the conversation long before Orlando, and once a commenter was asked what he actually needs this type of weapon for. His answer: It’s not about what I need, it’s about what I want.

I am tired, and angry. At the people who try to downplay the fact that this was an attack on the LGBT community, or ignore that every extremist shares the same hate against women and LGBT, not matter where they are. They don’t care about families, or love, or a safe environment for children to grow up in. All that matters to them is to keep the rigid structures and the hierarchy firmly in place.

It is chilling to think that this was supposed to be a safe place. When there’s no safe place to begin with…there is no reason for us not to demand our place at the table, in Washington, in Hollywood, in mainstream life everywhere in the world. Tolerating us is not good enough. We deserve equal.

We deserve clear definitions of wrong and right. Misogyny is wrong. Homophobia is wrong. I don’t believe in an angry, women-hating and anti-gay God – I believe any concept of a higher power like that is man-made, and I have no use for it.

Finally, we deserve to speak up. A moment of silence and contemplation can not be twisted into silencing us, because that helps no one but the people who are either silently, or very openly online cheering. They are wrong.

I am tired, but I’m also grateful for my wife, my family and friends, and a country that welcomed the way I am. Before we learned the horrible news, I was going to write about how politics and fiction intersect, and how important visibility is. Those things still matter. The more stories we write, the more happy endings, the more women in power – those don’t solve the problems overnight, but they are part of the solution.

I actually believe that empowering girls globally will strengthen the LGBT community. Those are long-term visions, but confronted with all the sadness and emotions right now, I wish we could simply find a switch and make it so that certain ideas simply no longer exist.



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