One of the astonishing shakeouts from the Orlando massacre is the outpouring of empathy and sympathy for LGBT folks from conservatives who typically demonize them.
Pardon my cynicism, but much of this newfound sensitivity is from conservative politicians seizing the opportunity to further demonize Islam.
“See! These Muslims want to kill these good Americans!”
So goes the new Republican Party line.
Never mind that a few days ago these same LGBT sympathizers were pushing laws singling out trans Americans as if trans Americans were the biggest threat to America since ISIS.
There was little sympathy for LGBT Americans who were largely perceived as perverted devils destroying America from within.
I do see a glimmer of hope in all this. The wall-to-wall news coverage of this massacre has had the effect of allowing LGBT people to be presented as the normal, typical Americans that they are. The media are putting names and faces on these innocent people who were ravaged and TV viewers are seeing the faces of folks who looked like folks, not like devils.
We’re hearing the life stories of those LGBT victims who were mowed down–so many in the prime of life–who were, well … as American as any American.
We’ve seen interview after interview with grieving LGBT Americans who just want to be able to live normal lives and gather wherever they want without fear of attacks, be they violent or verbal attacks from Muslims or fellow Americans or anybody else.
Strides have been made in LGBT rights in recent years, legalized gay marriage being one of them. The younger generations, which have never had any intense animus toward gay people, have celebrated these milestones as being long overdue.
But the full acceptance and inclusion of these Americans is still hard–as hardline, exploitative politicians know–for older generations to accept.
Maybe, just maybe, big numbers of resisters to LGBT rights will see as a result of this light shining on America’s LGBT people that they are fellow Americans–not outsiders–worthy of full inclusion into the American fold.
We can only hope.
I pray that my many LGBT friends and their friends can finally live without fear of violence or intimidation in the land of the free and home of the brave.