I remember when I came out to my dad in the fall of 2005. “Well, now you have two strikes against you. “You’re black, AND you’re gay.” At the time I didn’t quite know how to process those words. I knew exactly what my dad meant, but chose to live life not letting those two traits define my whole being. “Challenge accepted” was the tone of my internal promise to myself as I said goodbye to my dad for while, and welcomed my new life as an out gay man.
Race and sexuality were two areas of life I’ve always navigated well. After the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, I’m feeling extremely heavy – weighed down by sadness, truths, and the pressure to persevere. As if the gravity of Black Lives Matter’s tragedies and struggles weren’t enough, I’m now faced with the task of processing my feelings as a gay man of color in the wake of the Orlando tragedy.
My father’s words seem to haunt me as I move through life. First the slew of wrongful deaths in the Black community by the hands of police, and now the senseless mass murder of fifty poor souls – most of which were Latino – at an LGBT safe haven.
Living as a double minority brings a natural awareness in day-to-day life. I sense my responsibility to face these ghosts, and to figure out how to move forward in learning and growth. What do we do with tragedy of this magnitude? Just when we as a community thought we could breathe a little, a massive undertaking at Pulse Nightclub shakes us back to reality.
“You’re black, and you’re gay.” I can’t let these words fade away only to resurface and taunt me later down the road…