The Orlando Shootings

My dear readers, we have been alive to hear of the latest and most horrific mark on the honour of the United States, the worst mass shooting in all of American history in terms of sheer numbers. 50 dead, 53 injured. If you are still unaware of this story, in the early hours of Sunday (2:00AM local time), a gunman opened fire in a gay club in Orlando, Florida. The man was armed with an assault rifle and opened fire on a venue said to be hosting more than 300 people inside as part of a Latin themed event. At 2:09AM, the official Facebook page of the club instructed everyone to run away and keep running. The man took hostages and holed himself up inside the club, before police resorted to using explosives to create a hole in the wall of the building and storm inside. The gunman was shot and killed, though not before apparently declaring his allegiance to IS. Make no mistake, this story must not fade from our memories, this must be remembered as both a human tragedy and an LGBT tragedy.

The news have been eager to deflect on the LGBT angle, calling this a tragedy committed against people as a whole, rather than against a community but that is unfair. If a gunman shot down 50 Jewish people, we’d call them anti-semitic. If a gunman shot down 50 church-goers, we’d call them an antitheist. If you are considering a tragedy such as this, it is important we know who committed it and against whom and in this scenario, this man opened fire on a known LGBT venue – this is hate crime. You could try and argue that it being a gay bar, as opposed to a normal bar, doesn’t give it any extra weight to the story but the difference is more palpable than many of us can relate to. A gay bar is not just a watering hole for a community, it’s a sanctuary, it’s a place where you are the norm. As straight white people, you can walk into almost anywhere in the Western hemisphere and feel that you are the social default, the definition of ‘normal’. Gay bars, black churches, Muslim neighbourhoods, you might feel walking into such places as a straight white person puts you ill-at-ease but that is because you are walking into a different community, a community of people who adhere to different ways of life or look different to you but have banded together with those like themselves to look out for each other. In a world where there have been attacks on Sikhs just for wearing turbans and thus, being assaulted as ‘terrorists’, many of us want to be in a safe familiar setting where the man sat opposite us looks like us or thinks like us. A gay bar is just that, a place to deviate from the expected-heteronormative and not be judged for it.

IS have claimed they were behind this, whilst groups such as Westboro Baptist Church call this the wrath of God. Me, I call bullshit, I think IS wants to label any act of hatred or destruction as their work to make us scared and ignorant, to make us think they have power over us when in fact, they are nothing more than rag-tag thugs exploiting opportunities as they arise for lack of a better strategy, a cult of twisted madmen playing themselves up as the heralds of the apocalypse. Still, we expect this of them, they are profiteering hate-mongers wanting us to cast out our Islamic brothers and sisters into their receiving arms, that they might manipulate their resentments into weaponised anger. This gunman claims his allegiance to them but the FBI themselves have found no link, this is more than likely a blame-shift to the IS because you hear IS, your racist buddy hears “Syrian immigrant”. If you ask me, this is one man, one twisted man, using the assault rifle his country’s laughable laws allow him access to, as a means of executing a vendetta he has against those different to him. Also, funny coincidence, funny being extremely facetious, that the worst mass shootings in recent memory were against a gay bar, a planned parenthood clinic and an all-black church service, these seem like the communities another cult of hatred would like to see gone and I don’t mean IS.

Worst of all, in reaction to this, even worse than the news channels saying “This isn’t an LGBT tragedy, don’t politicise this (which I’ll address next)”, was Trump. Donald Trump, the pile of human excrement, has said this is what should lead Obama to resign for refusing to admit that this was the work of Islam and has decided to resort to “I told you so”, saying had the US tightened its borders, this wouldn’t have happened. First of all Trump, you sputum-sucking sack of horse shit, the gunman was an American-born man so that doesn’t work and secondly, he was not indoctrinated by some foreigner coming in and egging him on, he was inspired by online content and his own personal disgust for the LGBT community, his own father said so. I cannot be civil when it comes to Trump, the man is a buffoon to say the very least but to take a tragedy and use it as a moment to boast that you were the prophet of this, he is not only a buffoon but an amoral pus-filled sore on the face of the United States of America.

Politicise this, I said this of Paris attacks, I will say it of this, this is a matter to get worked up about. Be angry that the media is overlooking what this venue once meant to the LGBT community, be angry that the far-right feels the victims were struck down by God, be angry that the US is so backwards, an assault rifle is fine but an abortion is murder. Our modern world forgets things fast, we digest what we can and leave things behind, be it memes, memories or stories of tragedy but not this one. Almost twice as many people died in this attack as in the Sandy Hook shootings, more than twelve times as many people were injured in this attack as in the Binghamton shootings, this is not some bullshit story about a Kardashian or a Game of Thrones twist nobody saw coming, we are not going to just talk about this for a week and then move on to the uplifting story of a pug that rescued a drowning kitten or whatever, we are going to demand justice.

Now that I have you riled up or afraid, let me end on this note that I want all of you to remember, especially those of the LGBT community. In the wake of this, you may find yourself scared and uncertain of the future, you may want answers or vengeance or security. Firstly remember that your enemy is never a religion or a race, all religions and races are capable of good and bad. You may have friends or neighbours who are Muslim and feeling vulnerable so I implore you to reach out to them. Secondly, do not let this fear rule you. The LGBT flag is a rainbow, reflecting all the colours of the sexual spectrum, a world beyond the black and white of the gender and sexual binary but the colours stand for more than that, they stand for hope, pride and freedom. If you let this tragedy scare you into being someone different, terrorism has defeated you. Don’t shy away from going out. Go out more. Have some fucking sensational parties and drink to those who aren’t there to share the drinks with you, to the siblings you never met or the siblings that the hate in this world stole from you. Be louder, be prouder, be especially queer and never let hatred win.

A Pint of Bitter

Trigger Warnings – None really, very light mentions of drug use/abuse

Early post, off out tonight to celebrate my birthday with some friends, one of whom is moving away before my actual birthday and that’s why the celebrations were moved forward a bit. I’m not going off down the pub, despite everyone attending being old enough for that to be an option, I don’t drink, as I’ve probably mentioned, but I figured this was a good opportunity for me to have my say with regards to the drinking culture of the British people

Now there’s plenty to be said about the detriments on society caused by alcohol, how it’s clearly much more dangerous for your health than say marijuana and here in Britain it causes so many fights and punch-ups because it’s very easy to get very drunk and with a healthcare system like ours, you’ll be patched up before going back to work on Monday, given a slap on the wrist and sent on your jolly way. America doesn’t have that issue as much, mostly because Americans have guns and are a little less brawl-happy than the British pub-goer because they know their opponent could pull a weapon. Anyway, that’s not the article I’m going for here, badmouthing booze in Britain is an act of heresy and I’m sure this one paragraph alone will earn me the scorn of anyone in my area partial to a pint, thinking I’m some nay-saying wet blanket who drinks lemonade whilst knitting myself a scarf

I’m actually more interested in the very casual but committed relationship people have with alcohol. David Mitchell had a soapbox rant about this, largely the inspiration for this article, and he hits the nail on the head by comparing a pub experience to a coffee shop experience. I’ve said before coffee shops are not as full with intellectuals and scholars as you might think, it’s more Hipster ground now (Yes those are still a thing, I think) but even so, a coffee shop experience is perhaps an hour of sitting around with a drink, talking, getting bored of what each other has to say and leaving. Done, painless. A pub, not so much. I hate standard pubs with a passion really, lots of uncomfy furniture and conversations with people who gradually get less and less eloquent the more they drink, who then either make a fool of themselves, become aggressive or cry morosely for nothing until eventually vomiting and looking for some way home via taxi or sober friend. Thankfully, I don’t drive, or at least, don’t drive with friends who like to drink a lot, or I’d be the designated driver for life. I know you can always just have the one and leave but lots of people prefer to make an evening of it and that’s just not something you’d do in a Starbucks or Costa, who wants to spend that long in one place that only serves light refreshments and drinks? ┬áPub patrons apparently, they’ll live off Carling and pork scratchings to enjoy the banter and odd game of darts or pool, I could maybe have a drink and a game but after that I’d get bored and go home

By all means, this is just my opinion, the opinion of a sober man. I’ve drunk alcohol before, don’t get me wrong, a few kinds in fact – wine, vodka, Jager Bombs (I was a bartender, a customer didn’t like the idea of a tea-total man serving him so bought me three and demanded I down them before taking his actual order), cider – it just doesn’t do much for me and I’m against imbibing large quantities of something that impedes brain power. I like my brain, being intelligent is a big part of what I am and if that was replaced with slurred words and vomiting, that leaves me with a lot less of my personality to go on to make a positive impression of myself. Alcohol is a drug, a socially acceptable one at that which makes any boring situation into a more interesting one, that’s why hours can pass quickly when you’re drinking but they’ll crawl by when you’re sat there with a cup of coffee or a glass of squash and so if anyone invites me out to the pub or to a party which is just “It’s us lot all in one room drinking alcohol and listening to music”, I roll my eyes because I won’t be drinking, because I don’t want to, and I’ll miss out on the biggest part of the fun. Imagine this scenario with smoking weed or snorting coke, you don’t partake in it, you sit watching other people do it whilst you’re sat with a standard cigarette or snorting… umm… sherbert? Talcon powder? I don’t know what the substitute for that could be but you get my point

Carrying on with David Mitchell again here, he asks if our society is in denial that our social activities and interactions revolve around being slightly pissed. I wonder too, it’s not as much fun being the sober guy at the party or in the club, everyone is so loose and stupid and I’m sat there with Dignity sat on one side and Anxiety on the other going “Well aren’t you a stupid twat? You gonna dance with the cute blonde? No, thought not. Tosser”. I mean I could try getting drunk but given the number of mental barriers I enforce on myself not to do a lot of things, being drunk would undo that and a lot of people would then come to realise that without those barriers in place, I might be a total fuckwad. I’ve come a long way and had to invest a lot of hard work in holding back things that aren’t kind to say or indeed overcoming my violent history so I don’t want to take the risk of getting totally trollied, punching someone in the face and calling them every single foul thing I’ve ever wanted to call them, because I’d remember doing it eventually and then I’d never look at myself the same way again

There we go, I’m afraid of what alcohol might help me discover about myself. I like to think I’m a good guy but maybe that’s because I try to be, maybe deep down I’m a piece of filth. Still, as it stands, British socialising does revolve a lot around drinking – clubs, pubs, bars, parties – it’ll be curious to see who heads for the bar tonight in my birthday celebration and how a sober social activity plays out