On Being In A World That Wants To Steal Our Joy

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June 12, 2018

The following piece was written by Lambda Legal’s Digital Director Kristina Villarini on June 12, 2016.

I don't know what to say about Orlando. I wish I did. I don't know how to process this. 

I don't really understand how to exist in a world that wants to own my body or kill me.

I'm sitting on a bus heading to Washington D.C. to support and celebrate new friends and allies who want to help me and others accomplish a new mission. Bus rides provide a lot of time for reflection. I thought I'd be sleeping, or doing prep work, dissecting and digesting stats.

But all I can do is think about is all the times in my life that I didn't hold a partner's hand.

I remember my resistance to being “out” as a teen, not quite sure how to show someone I care in the same way that other, "normal" people did. This event, this shocking attack of our love and identity, has challenged me. I'm shaken. Uprooted.

If you cannot be a 22-year-old LGBTQIA+ Latinx dancing on a Latinx Night in a big city without being at risk... What other message does this send? How can you BE anywhere?

This is not wartime. Dancing and drinking in a city should not be a privilege I have for which others have died.

But … Have I really always hated PDAs? Or was I simply terrified of revealing myself to a world that wants me in a closet, in a kitchen, or in a pine box? There comes a moment when you forge a skin made of something other than flesh, as you prepare for the daily ferocity of a world that DOES NOT WANT YOU.

There are people who still zip themselves into a binding hetero-costume every day, not living the lives they deserve to live. How can we ask them to come out now? How can we ask them to resist? How can we ask people to be their best selves if we cannot process the existence of a woman without a male companion?

How can we exist to push forward a seemingly advanced idea of "love is love" when we are still fighting for safe spaces—battle lines drawn outside of the clubs and house parties we have chosen to not just be ourselves but to only, and briefly, be?

When I was young and I switched train cars when some dude called me a "fucking dyke"... It was because of the fear of people harming me who didn't want me there. The folks who didn't want me to win. To love. To laugh. They tried to steal our joy.

Orlando was a mass shooting AND a robbery, stealing the light of so many from a world that so clearly needs it.

I have had so many issues with #Pride in the past: its purpose and its power. Now I will be there again, supporting and enduring and probably crying under my Ray-Bans. And I hope that you will be there too, wherever you are, because there is so much work to do and there is truth in doing it together.

I wish there was some sage wisdom I could provide. The truth is, I'm sitting on a bus with tears in my eyes and what feels like a broken, bewildered heart. I'm mourning for the beauty I didn't get to see in the world. 

These are all just words, and they don't move as fast as bullets. (They never do.)

Stay aware, stay open to the magic that this world can provide. There is good left. 

It's the only thing I truly know right now.