For years now, I’ve made the habit of listening to the news in the morning. While I lived in Spain, the NPR app was a way for me to stay in the loop with my country and its happenings. To feel more connected with my people soothed my homesickness. It provided comfort, even though what seemed like every other week I would tune in and hear about another shooting, another suicide, another senseless waste of life.
I will never forget the morning I woke up to a dreamy day in early June, in a gorgeous rustic hotel in a rural Spanish town. I was rousing from this piece of bliss when I tuned in to listen to the news while I got ready for the day. My heart fell through the floor as live updates of the Pulse shooting came streaming through. People searching for their friends and loved ones. Planning meeting points. Mothers in the street, unsure if their babies were in there. Havoc. Panic. I’ve never felt so impotent, heartbroken, and angry. My tears were not going to give life back to my brothers and sisters maimed by a sick, sad individual with a high-capacity gun.
I will never forget this morning in early June either. I put on my sunglasses as I drove down the road calmly. I turned on the radio and heard David Green reading about accolades and praise Anthony Bourdain has received. My heart sunk. Then he said it, “He was 61.” That’s too young, I thought frantically. Please no. Please no. The segment ended there so I quickly grabbed my phone to check…how?
I’ve never yelled profanity so loud in my life. I scared myself and probably the person next to me at the light who looked over alarmed.
Another loss. A knife cut through my chest in the same way it did when I heard about my cousin’s husband’s mother, my friend’s brother… the same it always does when beautiful souls depart us too soon at the hands of this plague. I angry cried all the way to work. I’m sad. I’m pissed. Another person who I revere and wholeheartedly admire… just gone. We opened the week with Kate Spade and we’re closing it with Anthony Bourdain. My heart is broken. I refuse to accept these types of events as commonplace in our news cycles.
Mass shootings, suicides…these things seem unrelated, but they’re not. I believe they are symptoms. Our country is ill. Many of us are ill. We are divided, we are extreme, we live in a culture of violence and shame. It isn’t any wonder more and more of us are battling with mental health issues. Our environment breeds this. How many more people will we lose as a result of this illness?
As a society, we are in desperate need of healing. How? I don’t know. I think, though, we must begin to talk about it where can. Begin where we have control— at home with yourself, with your partner, your family, your friends, your colleagues, your team, your church, your tribe, your school, your community.
It’s Pride weekend here in Milwaukee, and many places around the world. So many of my fellow queers battle with mental health because there is a wave of violence and shaming that overwhelms being OK with oneself. I hope during this time of celebrating who we are, we find space for transparent discussion.
I am queer and have struggled immensely with depression, and now battle anxiety daily. I have told my partner, my friends, my family, my colleagues– everyone I interact with on a daily basis is aware. And it’s not luck that they’re there and they’re supportive of me. It’s love.
I invite anyone who needs to talk to reach out to me. Let’s take it all out from under the rug. I love you, you beautiful human and your wonderful heart. Let us celebrate and discuss.
Rest easy, all who have been lost to this plague.
With all of my heart,