Note: This post is primarily written for a white audience, suggesting better news connections for reading about Orlando and having a sense of "what to do".
I have been very careful with my media consumption this week. My first hit on what happened in Orlando came via Facebook, one of the first things I check when I wake. It came through a trustworthy queer friend, who is discerning about what he consumes. It was a good introduction to the basics, though, already at 7 am CDT, there was talk of Radical Islam behind all of it.
Speculation, side taking and assumptions are par for the course after a national tragedy. It is easier to say "This is the answer," or even, "This is the problem" than it is to reckon with the ultimate fact:
This situation is complex, multifaceted, and not easily addressed.
I mentioned to someone this week that I am thoroughly anti-gun.
Just don't like em.
It's pretty personal, more emotional than logical, though I have my logical reasons.
I never had them around as a kid, other than my brothers using our grandfather's rifle to shoot cans.
I don't feel comfortable around violence, and definitely think semiautomatics are way beyond necessary in any instance, even war.
That having been said, the tendency to jump to anti-gun/pro-gun control rhetoric tires me. So does the knee jerk tendency to jump to allyship for queer folks.
All stances, so sudden, so strong, exhaust me - even the ones I agree with wholeheartedly.
The point is not that I disagree. The point is that taking a tough stance, even if it is just on social media, exhausts me. Speaking only to one aspect - mental health, gun control, islamophobia - discounts the many other aspects (including, but not limited to) the actual presence of anti-gay sentiments in some Muslim communities, the incredible origins of violence and perpetuation of violence against particularly queer people of color in this day and age, and the lack of even an operational mental health system to actually address the core causes and issues of people who struggle with serious challenges.
This is a place where Buddhism comes through for me. When I feel helpless, I do Tonglen or Maitri/Metta to work with my own mind, but that is not even what I am talking about. What I am talking about is responses that respect the whole, like these from well-known Buddhist teachers. And this is also where listening carefully to queer and/or people of color leaders really comes through. I generally - and yes, this is a generalization - find that white thought leaders (and yes, I am white, and don't hate myself for it) don't speak to nuance. We don't have to. We aren't accustomed to it, we aren't sensitized to intersectionality.
So who are some of those folks? My personal favorites - some friends, some thought leaders I follow - by no means an exhaustive list, but a good pinhole into resources from mostly queer and mostly people of color thought leaders I have been following:
Angel Kyodo Williams (who also has an amazing co-authored title out THIS WEEK called Radical Dharma which faces the intersectionality of Buddhism and Race and Liberation with:)
Lama Rod Owens
Not1story on Twitter
Jay, Brown Menace on Twitter
If you are only following white media, and white thought leaders, please tune in to some of these or other folks who actually meet the demographics of those killed in this horrific tragedy. When people need your help, you need to ask: what help do they want from me? If they are asking for anti-gun legislation, then help support them in that. If they are asking for support in fighting homophobia, go for it - by supporting their causes.
Luckily, quite a bit of mainstream or side-mainstream media is picking up on the issues these folks are pointing to:
Queer Muslims speak to what they need in these times.
And some more of that - so important - what Queer Muslims need in terms of support.
Undocumented folks have extra concerns post-Orlando.
Noting that the focus should be on Latinx LGBTQ survival for this event.
Forgotten and unmentioned in mainstream media major killing of LGBTQ at a bar years ago.
A queer Muslim writing about what it is like to not be welcome at an anti-racism pro-gay protest.
Diversifying your media input is always, always helpful, but especially in instances like this.
Side benefit: instead of getting caught up in politicking and slogans and quick reactions of white media, you can relax into the depth of suffering going on. Though that may sound less pleasant, in general queer people of color have known for a long time this is a battle that won't end soon. They are more patient and have more stay power than the fragile whites among us.