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.



By J. E. Knowles

Yesterday will live in infamy, as the worst terrorist attack in the U.S.A. since September 11, 2001. It was also the worst gun massacre in U.S. history, though it’s gotten to where we might as well not note these anymore.

I’m a praying person, but I don’t feel like prayer right now. I don’t even feel what I “should” feel, sadness for 50 lives lost, for their families, for the many more injured. The only feeling I’ve been able to summon up on the 13th of June (as it is here) is anger.

Anger, first and foremost, for my LGBT sisters and brothers, who were celebrating Pride (and Latin night) in an Orlando club. Who were gunned down for being who they were and where they were. Not being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The killer picked exactly the place and time he wanted—my people, in their own place, in our month of Pride. at the murderer who, like murderers before him, gets his name and picture and religion and homophobia all over the media, taking away from the victims of queerbashing terrorism. Anger at the terror that queer people have lived with for most of history, and still do. Anger that while Americans will wrap themselves in the tricoleur when Paris is attacked, when it comes to queerbashing, suddenly we are talking about what to call the terrorism. Radical Islam, or gun violence. I’m waiting for people who are not gay to stand up for us as who we are.

Anger at the politicians of whichever party who, at best, offer “thoughts and prayers,” but not massacre prevention or LGBT rights. Who at worst take credit for their “toughness” towards what they’ve already decided motivated the killer, completely ignoring the victims, their queerness, their fellow American lives. How “tough” does America need to be? We’re already tough enough for the slaughter of first graders to be accepted as the price of our way of life.

Anger at the fanaticism of the religious, whether it’s a terrorist rampaging during the holiest month of his own religion (see the Quran on Ramadan) or the lieutenant governor of Texas tweeting a Bible verse about us getting what we deserve from God. Anger at my fellow Christians when they see radical terrorism in Islam, but don’t think Christianity has any responsibility for Dan Patrick, or the Westboro Baptist Church, or the nearly 200 anti-LGBT bills proposed in the states this year.

And yes, anger that anybody who wants to shoot up a gay club, an employee party, a movie theatre, or an elementary school in America can buy a weapon whose only hideous purpose is slaughter in war. Anger at a political system so broken and dysfunctional that gun sanity desired by 90% of people (and a majority of those who own guns) is not enough to gain us anything but thoughts and prayers.

A friend in Toronto posted “Thoughts and prayers are nice. Gun control and queer rights are better.” If I think that’s what it’s all about, I should f*** off and move to Canada. Don’t worry, I already did.