Sunday, June 12, 2016

Dear Faggot


Dear Faggot,

We’ve never met and we never will, because last night you were murdered.

You were out at a gay bar called Pulse in Orlando, Florida when someone walked in and ended your life, along with the lives of 49 [or more] others. In his eyes, you were faggots and you deserved a gruesome, organized massacre. And while he was putting you down with bullets, I was more than 600 miles away — waking up from a sound sleep to use the bathroom. It was just after three in the morning when I came back to bed, where my boyfriend Andy was also awake. His eyes were closed, but his breathing was quick and uneven. “I just saw on Facebook there was a shooting at a gay bar in Orlando,” I whispered into the darkness. “Oh no, that’s terrible,” he said without opening his eyes. “Yeah it’s fucking terrible,” I said absently. We laid there silently until we drifted back to sleep.

I feel guilty for not being more invested in your story, sooner. But I wouldn’t know how bad the scene of the crime was until I woke again at a reasonable hour. The body count was 20, at first. Then it quickly jumped to 50, with 53 injured. It was labeled the worst mass shooting in American history. And you were there. You were somewhere safe; in a sanctuary you might’ve loved and valued.

My boyfriend doesn’t really like going out, but I do. I seek out gay bars when I visit new cities and keep my go-to locals right here in New Orleans. No matter where I am in the world, I can find comfort in the neighborhood gay bar. It’s a safe haven for people like me, from proud Glee Era millennials to veteran activists who remember the Stonewall Riots in vivid memory.

Did you go to Pulse often? Did you know the bartenders by name? Did you ever hit it off with someone you met on the dance floor? I bet the cover charge was always worth it, right?

I spent hours in bed this morning, scrolling through Facebook and watching every news clip I came across, from NBC to BBC. At Andy’s urging, I finally got up and decided we should have breakfast at The Country Club, a restaurant that caters to its Bywater neighborhood and the gay community of New Orleans. I pictured tables full of sullen, grieving gays and lesbians, dressed in black and commiserating among friends. So I put on a black T-shirt and black jeans and black sunglasses and headed out.

When we arrived, the restaurant looked and felt like a normal Sunday morning — buzzing with lively wait staff and warm, inviting scents from the kitchen. We were seated next to a table of four heterosexual couples who were clearly visiting from out of town. They laughed loudly and obnoxiously talked over one another. Typically, these people would annoy the fuck out of me, but I couldn’t bring myself to feel frustrated with them. Why shouldn't they carry on? I wondered. I'm happy for them. No one should feel the way I do. So go ahead, tell stories about last night. Make a case for sharing entrees. Order dessert. At one point, a gnat landed on the edge of my plate and couldn't even bring myself to swat it away.

When you were alive, did you ever visit New Orleans? It’s great here. The food’s delicious and the people are generally pleasant. Did you travel a lot? I bet you wish you would’ve traveled more. I feel like that’s a universal regret, but I wish you would’ve traveled more. I know that's a strange thing to wish for a stranger, but I think you'd understand.

I spent the rest of the day watching people debate the circumstances of your death on the internet. Was it in the name of God? An act of domestic terrorism? Another catalyst for the immovable gun control movement? I will not write the name of your killer here, because I don’t want him to live beyond where he ended. But sadly, he will be remembered as the face of your death and not your own. You don’t deserve that either. You deserve to be immortalized for being out on a Saturday night at an establishment that celebrates your uniqueness. And you deserve to live on in the actions of present and future gay Americans. You will be remembered when we, the living faggots, show solidarity at our local gay bars tonight. You will be remembered when I kiss my boyfriend in public, as an act of love and an act of defiance.

Before I sat down to write this letter to you, I went for a run. I was two miles in when I started thinking about you and began to cry. I imagined what it was like for you, in the moments right before someone walked in and recklessly sprayed bullets into your body.

You might have been hammered — crying and bitching and talking incessantly the way drunk gays do after a long night of partying.

Maybe you were frustrated; on the precipice of going home alone. You had such high hopes for the night and then, in the early morning hours, your odds weren't looking too favorably.

But I hope you were happy. I hope you were dancing your ass off. I hope you didn’t know anything was wrong — complacent and maybe even a little bored. I hope you felt confident.

You might not have known it before you died, but you were among the only other people in the world who understand what it’s like to be gay.

When we talk about death, we wish to be surrounded by family in our final hours. And you were.

And now, you will never be the object of someone’s hate.

And you will never be labeled a faggot again.

You are someone.

You are all of us.

86 comments:

  1. This was beautiful Ryan!!! This tears at my heart the more details emerge... <3

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  2. Dam, I have chills
    Beautiful mate

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  3. Wow, heartbreaking and beautiful. Thank you <3

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  4. WOW! I didn't think it was possible to cry to 6:15AM. Beautiful writing. Sad story.

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  5. Just beautiful. Thank you , Ryan.

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  6. Love to you dear precious one. Love and light to each precious baby we lost. Broken hearted for our country.

    I wish our tears and our love could undo this and I pray that we find a way to stop it from happening again.

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  8. A perfect thought of love to the senseless of hate.

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  9. Thank you Ryan. I've been struggling to articulate how I feel about all this, and you've beautifully done so. Keep writing and being brave.

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  10. Crying again! What a beautiful way of expressing your grief when I have struggled to even work out my own thoughts.

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  11. Thank you for writing this, Ryan.

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  12. I haven't been able to cry....I was too angry. I'm still angry but my tears are hot against my cheeks now.
    Thank you. I was afraid I wouldn't be able to stop, or that I would be paralyzed. I'm not. I will keep moving and speaking our truth. Thank you for opening the door just enough for us to get out.

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  13. Thank you for writing so beautifully what many have felt but didn't know how to say.

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  14. I want to thank everyone for the overwhelming response to this essay.
    Thank you for reading, sharing, and engaging. It gives me immeasurable hope to know that we're all connecting over a universal sentiment.
    This outpouring of person-to-person understanding makes life worth living. So let's keep living on behalf of the departed.

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    1. I don't know you but I love you. Beautiful words. I didn't know any of the victims but have shed many tears.

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    2. Someone going around reporting whoever shares this. I was blocked from Facebook for 24 hours for sharing this and quoting "I wish you could have traveled more" - just a little fyi

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    3. I was blocked as well. FB is trying to remove the post completely. We have responded by just posting a link to the original blog. Thank you for saying what so many people couldn't figure out how to say. Love!

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    4. I saw this posted by the morning guy on hot 101.5 in tampa. I'm not gay but as a transgender person I can relate to this so I shared on FB. This morning I tryed getting on FB. The link was removed, I can't post anything for 25 hours and I can't send messages. I'm upset it was taken down. What you wrote says so much. I'm glad I saw it got to read it.

      Thank You
      Elsa ;)

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  15. Beautiful tribute, Ryan! As a writer myself, it has always been my mission to honor and pay tribute to past, present and future generations of LGBT individuals who choose to celebrate our community in order to enlighten others, just added yourself to the list.
    Keep up the good work, my friend, much love...

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  16. Words don't express the beauty. Thank you.

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  17. Poignant. Thank you.

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  18. That was truly passionate.loved it.

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  19. This is beautifully written! My son is gay and I have really struggled with all of this as well

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  20. I sit here and cry as I read this, like so many others. As a non gay woman (from West Hollywood!) I cry in horror thinking about what happened. Yesterday I was blasting people on FB for saying this was an Islamic terrorist attack, not the HATE crime it was. I cannot imagine being near anyone yesterday that was not completely destroyed by this. You writing is perfection, and your strength and equanimity amazing. I would have lost my shit sitting next to those people. I love you.

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  21. Simply incredible, thank you

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  22. incredible! Thank you for this!

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  24. This is beautiful; it applies to all disenfranchised individuals. Peace and love. God Bless us all

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  25. Heart- wrenching, beautiful, powerful and thought-provoking. Thank you for writing this!

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  26. Thank you for writing that..... I think we all needed it. Simply amazing.

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  27. Live, love, laugh, you will never know what tomorrow brings. Well written Ryan! I sit here thinking of these poor innocent people having fun, enjoying life and it all just stops. When I saw the news my heart sank. Fear set in on what is going to happen next. I don't want to live in fear in my own Country!! Live your life well my friend and take care! You are loved by many!

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  28. Wow, thank you! Absolutely BEAUTIFUL

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  30. My heart aches as does yours. This was beautifully written and I thank you for sharing it. And I weep for the strangers that are us.

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  31. Too many souls lost. Too many futures ended. Too many. I grieve the loss, the loss of many, the loss of freedom, the loss of humanity that night. Rest in peace my brothers and sistersl. Rest in peace.

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  32. Too many souls lost. Too many futures ended. Too many. I grieve the loss, the loss of many, the loss of freedom, the loss of humanity that night. Rest in peace my brothers and sistersl. Rest in peace.

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  33. It took me time as well.

    Until after a thunderstorm this afternoon, the brightest double rainbow I've ever seen cast across the sky...

    I then broke down and cried.

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  34. Not fair ....ur so. Loved..remember when u feel thehate..prayers

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  35. Not fair ....ur so. Loved..remember when u feel thehate..prayers

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  36. Queer trans person of colour erasaure warning. Mass murder at a Latix bar which acted as a safe spot to QTPOC who face the threat of violence and systemic discrimination daily, yet your letter revolves around gay whiteness. This isn't your time to take up space, this is your time to step up and help make changes for the rest of us that the LGBTQ movement has discarded.

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    1. It was a Latinx *night* at a gay bar. Big difference. While it's important to note most of the victims were queer POC, it's unfair to act as if this isn't a gay issue too.

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  37. I have no idea who you are, but you've truly touched my heart. This "letter" of yours, has been one of, if not THE most non political, non religious, non conspiracy, piece of writing that come forth. It is an emotional, heartfelt, realistic commentary about the LGBT community, that unless you've lived your life being a member of...you will never completely understand. Excellent writing.

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  38. I am the proud mother and mother in-law of a gay son(s). I am so moved by what you wrote. It is difficult for mom's too knowing there are people that hate your child because he is gay. I love him so much and I can't imagine life without him. My heart breaks for those 49 mothers.

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  39. This is truly touching. Thank you for taking the time to write this.

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  40. You might not have known it before you died, but you were among the only other people in the world who understand what it’s like to be gay. #truth

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  41. I've literally read this 10 times. And every time I tear up. I was amongst friends when I heard about the shooting...so I tried to remain strong, but my heart was torn to shreds. As the stories of the victims unfold and I see songs being dedicated I cry even more. I watched Anderson Cooper's tribute last night and had to excuse myself from lunch with my co workers. Here I am reading this beautiful letter again doing cardio at the gym and I can barely see my screen for the tears. I may not have known these people, but they were My family. RIP.

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  42. Beautifully written..THANKS FOR THIS....Take care my friend

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  43. That is a perfect, beautiful tribute. It really sums up what most of us felt when we first saw the news..

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  44. I hug you all and I won't let go...I will hug you with my eyes, my heart and my soul...to all those that this inspired , to all those that have no feelings because the feelings too much...I hug you with open heart knowing that we are not alone in a world that sometimes allows us to feel that way...I trust that you will hug someone today, if not physically but emotionally espescially when you can't understand who they are...I hug you all, it's the best way I know how to show you I love you...

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  45. I'm not a member of the gay community but we stand with you.

    This wasn't an act of hate; it was an act of cowardice. The first impulse for so many today is to lash out at whomever, whatever, wherever, and whenever something - anything, it seems - frustrates, confuses, or upsets us. Tolerance, empathy, the ability to reach out to our fellow human beings no matter what color, race, sex, gender, or belief system is in short supply and our world is so much poorer for it.

    I'm crying as I write this. I weep for those 49 lost souls who didn't deserve this terrible fate. I weep for the families who will forever have a hole in their hearts. May everyone find a little peace in the wake of this tragedy, and may we as a species learn from it.

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  46. Tears were streaming down my face as I read this.
    As an older gay man I have watched many of my friends die over the years. I remember in the 80s you could not keep the black dress out of the cleaners. I stopped counting at 120 friends or acquaintances who had passed.
    We stopped and took note and stood strong and demanded change. It was slow but it happened.
    This tragedy this a little more difficult to comprehend we're not dying from the unknown we know this enemy. We will stand strong again and demand change and it will happen
    Don't expect it to come quick but stay the course and we will win the battle.

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  47. Your a beautiful person, thank you so very much for that tribute :-)

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  48. I am 1000% ,and I still wanna kiss you man. Thank you for keeping this positive message thru something like this.

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  49. Facebook just bounced this on me. Though you might like to know.

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  50. An amazing tribute - I will carry these thoughts in my heart and hope all the victims have found peace.

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  51. OMG. I cried. Your letter says so many things I have been feeling

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  52. Epic tribute,Streaming tears,

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  53. Love this post, I've posted it twice, and twice gotten it blocked and am now in 24 hour facebook jail for posting. Can you re-up a second version, same content, different title and URL? I wanna post it again. Thanks so much. Fucking love it.


    -Dave Peil 

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    1. Hey Dave! I just created a new title, just for sharing. Here you go. Thank you so much for reading and sharing. It means the world to me.

      http://exboyfriendmaterial.blogspot.mx/2016/06/dear-brother_23.html

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  54. Beautifil tribute Ryan ��❤������������

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  55. Brilliant, your love shines thru! Thank you from a straight senior woman

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  56. Well put, thank you for sharing xoxoxo

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  57. I love this article, but every time I try to post it on Facebook it is removed, I'm assuming, because of the title. In fact I'm now blocked from posting for 24 hours after sharing it twice. I thought you should be aware of this censorship and hopefully you are able to remedy it. Your letter should not be silenced!!

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    1. Thank you, Ricky! Made a new title, just for sharing. Here you go. Thank you so much for reading and sharing. It means the world to me.

      http://exboyfriendmaterial.blogspot.mx/2016/06/dear-brother_23.html

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  58. I lived in Orlando for 6months in college while a part of the Disney College program. This attack hits hard for me both because Orlando is my second home and as someone still in the closet to my family of my queerness. I sit here reading stories of the slain and quietly grieve because I'm a coward to not step forward and proclaim myself bisexual and proud, to damn the consequences. I live in awe of those who live their lives open.

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