Sunday, June 12, 2016

We Need A Love Gun

I was still in bed when my wife told me that maybe I shouldn't bother getting up. That's when she informed me of yet another mass shooting, this one at a gay nightclub in Orlando the night before. I felt my heart and stomach drop, even though I was already lying down. I moaned and rolled over. It was an all-too familiar pain for anybody with a heart. You cannot ever steel yourself against these tragedies if you have an ounce of love for humanity.

My first thought was a memory. I was living at home when my mom opened my bedroom door and told me through tears that the Challenger space shuttle had exploded shortly after launch. That was the one that the school teacher was riding, and it was really the first mission I had paid much attention to. I seem to recall I was already depressed about my own life, and that disaster didn't help any. I am frightened as to whether this shooting will push somebody to suicide in the face of a world that shows so much hate and violence that it is not worth living in, especially if you are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgendered.

Ironically, and perhaps naively or comically, the very next phrase that entered my mind was "we need a love gun." I could literally hear that inside my head, like someone else whispered the idea. Surely, it was meant figuratively, but my imagination suddenly painted a picture from a bad 1970s or 1980s movie where a cartoonish weapon wielded by a colorful character shot rainbows and glitter at the villains. That actually sounds appropriate given that Orlando is home to Disney's Magic Kingdom, Universal Studios, and other theme parks where we flock to get away from the horrible realities of....well, reality.

Maybe we need to get right on this new invention. I cannot think of any group of humans better suited to creating something powerfully good than the LGBT community. There is a reason that the word "gay" also means "light-hearted, lively [and] given to social pleasures" according to my pocket-sized The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, copyright 1973. Funny, back then the word did not even apply to homosexuals.

Isn't that how we stereotype that population, though? Flamboyant, colorful, mischievous, dancing through life footloose and fancy-free. Somewhere, our envy turned to jealousy, to ridicule, to hate. It should have turned the other way, to joy, and to embracing the positivity of a movement that celebrates itself in pride parades. Instead we are offended? I'll save my fingers from pointing at the enemies of positive possibilities, but you know who you are.

Some people already have love guns, or, more to the point are love guns. They may not passionately advocate for entire populations of different lifestyles, but they fiercely defend the individuals they know. Love guns fire words of praise and support to those struggling with gender identity crises and hurtful personal and social experiences. Love guns are a symbol of solidarity because, you know, there but for the grace of God and genetics, go I. They have empathy, not pity. They have true love, not condescension.

I have not even turned on the television, or gone online yet, as I write this. I didn't want the storm being unleashed to cloud my vision, to make my eyes rain any more tears, to send bolts of anger and hostility through my intellect. That is not what being a love gun is about. No, it is not all rainbows and roses, either. Love guns can separate fantasy from reality.

Go, architect a new reality, design ways to change the world for the better. Start with the man or woman in the mirror. Strive. Reach out, there are so many people in need that you won't have to look far. Stop endorsing or accepting hate, including the passive, implied, institutional kind. Share your ammunition of hope, compassion, empathy, and affection. Be a love gun.

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