Hours before the mass shooting at Club Q, a gay bar in Manhattan was targeted for the fourth time this month when someone threw a brick at its window. “There’s an ominous feeling that this won’t cease or that it could escalate,” the bar’s owner said. https://t.co/JjW5VyNSLf
— The New York Times (@nytimes) November 22, 2022
I’m on my hands and knees scrubbing the red stain from my bathtub so vigorously that pain lances through my arm.
Tears plunge into the Comet and Powerwash solution making green circular patterns in what is supposed to be a clean white tub. I wonder if the tears help. I wonder if, by some magic, they will help wash this stain clean.
My rainbow-rimmed glasses fall to the tip of my nose. I push them up with a curved wrist and past the wet cheeks.
Angry music throbs in the background as I clean, and I find no music in the world comforts or sings to what the LGBTQI+ community continues to lose. What I, as a bisexual person, am afraid of enduring any further.
Emotion is spilling out of me, and I can’t stop scrubbing, because if I stop scrubbing, I think too hard and too long about the lives lost at Club Q. I think about those injured. I think about the families that will be pained forever.
I don’t even know these people, and I feel their absence on a cosmic level. I don’t know how. I just do.
And if I think hard about them and the lives they won’t get to live, it makes me feel so helpless and small that I want to scream until I’m hoarse. My chest already aches with such abandon as large sobs escape me. So much that it feels like my heart is literally breaking.
But I can’t stop myself from thinking about it all as I recall a time almost a year ago when I went to Club Q.
I lived and worked in Colorado Springs then but wasn’t a regular visitor to one of the many places that were supposed to be safe havens.
But the one time I visited was for a Sunday brunch drag queen show. I was invited by a former client to help support their child—a young person who was still discovering their identity. Of course, I jumped at the opportunity to go.
I went with a friend, and it was one of the most enjoyable shows I had ever been to. I was surprised I had never gone before.
I smiled the whole way through the show.
As I scrub, I think about my former client’s child. The way they graced the stage so well for someone so young. The way people applauded each gracious step of their dance. The way their dress flitted with each glowing twirl. The way so many people supported them.
It could’ve been any day. It could’ve been that day, I think as I scrub.
The thought that it could’ve been them…or me…the thought that it had been anyone at all on any given day leaves me crippled with grief.
The stain isn’t coming out still, so I scrub even harder.
As the thoughts course through me, my ridiculously long red hair dips into the tub, nearly gliding through the green cleaning solution. I toss it behind my shoulder and wipe the tears away with my arm.
Green is supposed to cancel red, I remember.
“Green means healing,” I say loudly to myself, referring to my spiritual teachings. “Red means anger and something worse…”
The musing makes me halt my scrubbing. I throw down brushes and lean back into the cramped space of my bathroom.
There I hug myself, letting the tears fully arrive now.
But how can we heal from this? How can green cancel out all this red?
How will this ever be okay? How can I focus on my job or do normal daily things when so much bad is existing around me?
And why the f*ck am I confined to this godforsaken planet and stuck in human existence where I have to observe people dying just for who they love?
“Sometimes, I hate it here,” I say aloud, realizing I’ve been saying that phrase far more than I care to.
I say it when ex-friends post memes of adults blocking children from rainbows with a shield saying, “I will not subject my child to this.” I say it when the bible is used to condemn the LGBTQI+ community.
How am I supposed to make an impact on a planet so plagued with hatred? The answer feels so far out of sight I’m squinting to see it.
Then, I remember the young person I supported at Club Q, the life, joy, and courage screaming from within them as they danced and smiled and sang.
They did two lovely performances, and all I could think then was how I wished I had a shred of the courage they did when I was that age. How scary it was to live and be seen in a world where hate surrounds you.
The memory alone inspires me, and although I am young, I know that I have a lot to learn from younger people and their innocence.
The green solution remains unmoving in my stained bathtub after several minutes. I realize I must continue because my landlord will be here for an inspection tomorrow and my bathtub is not supposed to be red.
I’m still crying, but a little less now, as I get on my knees and take up the brushes again.
I scrub more, realizing that the green solution was now lifting the red from the bottom of my bathtub. It just needed to sit a while.
“I still have a ways to go,” I say again to myself, knowing now is not the time to give up.
But what I really mean is We.