I'm sitting in a coffee shop in Reykjavik enjoying my last few hours in this city. I have seen many sights, met some fun people, gone back and forth between freezing and hot in a matter of moments, and slept...a lot. But I finally feel like I have a moment to sit and process that isn't filled with exhaustion.
Right before I left, a horrible event happened in Orlando. I know you all know of it. I was sick to my stomach all day Sunday, but for the most part have been entirely separate from the event since, as I have been distracted by travel details and lack of Internet access.
Today, as I scrolled through Facebook, I'm struck at just how separate I am. I see my friends in Seattle angry and grieving, discerning how to move forward together. And I am here. Halfway around the world in a country that is proud to admit it's progressive views toward Queer rights. They even have a statue in the city center that was decorated with lipstick one day, and the mayor loved it so much he left it there. It stands atop a hill as an effiminate icon in the city where same-sex marriage has been legal since 1996.
Some of you may not know yet, so I'm sorry you're hearing about it this way, but I recently came out as asexual. In case you aren't aware, the A in the LGBTQIA (or whatever version of the acronym you are familiar with) stands for asexual, among other things. Rest assured that it does not stand for ally.
Though I have always had a sense of comeraderie with the Queer community, I have developed a sense of identification, as I now consider myself a full fledged member of a marginalized group. There are many ways in which asexuals do not experience the same kind of discrimination as other members of the community, and yet there are other ways in which it is even more difficult to be asexual in a place like the USA. I don't pretend to know what it is like to be gay or transgender, but I do know what it is like to feel like an outsider, like you don't fit anywhere, like you need to be something you are not in order to be accepted by those around you.
The anger I feel about what happened in Orlando is not a new anger. It is the same anger that has led me to informally leave the church. It's an anger that motivates me to support and love the Queer community that I now call my own.
To those of you who consider yourselves allies, thank you. We need you. We need your love, your support, your hope. And I think most of all, we need your imagination and we need you to make space for us. You all have a seat at the table already. Instead of speaking for us at that table, invite us in. Imagine a bigger set of possibilities. Open your hearts and your minds and listen to our stories, then step back so that we may share them.
We are better together.