I find myself struggling today. Struggling to find the right words to say, struggling to reconcile senseless violence with the hate-filled political rhetoric. Mostly though, I struggle with the realization that we find ourselves at the intersection of gun violence and the queer community and I can feel June 12, 2016 with an intensity I haven’t experienced in some time.
As of press time, we don’t have all the details of the shooting at the Colorado Springs LGBTQ nightclub, Club Q. My heart is with the victims, their families and the long journey to healing the community has in front of it.
To send support to this grieving community please do so through The Colorado Healing Fund. This fund provides a single, secure point for donations to support the victims of this tragedy. Donations go directly to victims and their families to provide immediate and long-term support across a broad range of needs. That could include a plane ticket or rental car for families to get to town, direct-cash payments to cover medical expenses or long-term mental health services for survivors.
This tragedy is especially hard to fathom as we approach the holiday season. While my family gathers for Thanksgiving, it is with the realization that some families will not have that luxury. Some families will be missing loved ones, again from gun violence.
I often talk about my experience in a 12-step program, and I am reminded in times like this how useful this program has been for me. I was eight months sober when the attack at Pulse happened and I wasn’t sure it would stick. My fellow group of drunks helped me through the tragedy with gratitude. I found it comforting acknowledging the things I had in my life for which I was grateful, and I don’t think there is a more fitting week to do so.
In this moment, I am most grateful for my community. I am lucky enough to work with some of the most wonderful, passionate advocates for the LGBTQ community as a board member for the One Orlando Alliance. This amazing group was founded out of the Pulse tragedy to make sure no one in need was falling through the cracks. Recently we have had the need to meet often and I am reminded every time I am around this group of community leaders that the greater Orlando area is better place because these people are fighting for us.
I am also grateful for my family; work, chosen and the one I was born into. It’s been a lean year for the work family at Watermark. We’ve operated the majority of the year with just seven of us, two in Tampa Bay, four in Orlando and me driving back and forth. I am constantly amazed by their dedication to their work and this community. We are starting the new year with an additional two employees and I can’t wait to see what 2023 has in store for us.
I am lucky to say my chosen family includes my husband, someone who simply gets me and loves me for who I am. He is pretty amazing. Together we accomplish so much more than I imagined we ever would. What’s better is his family accepts me as his husband and I love them just as much.
In my home away from my husband is my roommate, best friend and common law wife. She and I have been in each other’s lives for nearly 25 years and I couldn’t imagine my life without her or her family.
Finally, there is my biological family. It is because of them Thanksgiving has become my favorite holiday. Apparently my love language is food and nothing makes me happier than making them Thanksgiving dinner to say thank you for being a bright light in my life.
This Thanksgiving I encourage you to reflect on gratitude and share it with those in your life that bring you joy. Share some love with them and spread some joy of your own. Remind yourself what in your life is worth fighting for. Reinvigorate that passion to march forward. We have a long road ahead of us and will need as many voices of support that we can get.
We strive to bring you a variety of stories, your stories. I hope you enjoy this latest issue.