Week 96 – Little Bits of Orlando

  1. I am grateful that my parents have been in town for the opening of The Light in the Piazza, and that I have a few extra days to spend with them
  2. I am grateful for the amazing young students in my Musical Theatre Scenes class, this week
  3. I am grateful for the generous artists and story-tellers in my life

It’s taken me a bit to be able to write about Orlando.

In times of unthinkable tragedy, how can it seem like there is so much to say, and yet nothing remotely adequate to say? Have you had moments of feeling totally speechless, but equally flooded with thought? Hungry to speak out, but also worrying that your meager voice can barely reach above a whisper?  That the bile in your belly wants to burst through your throat, but it’s also so deep down there that it numbs you a little? A lot? Like a needle that is lodged into the most tender and vulnerable parts of yourself, and if you breathe too much, it just keeps on stabbing? But then at the same time, experiencing guilt about your own emotions, maybe worrying that somehow these feelings are not even yours to have? As an ally, I want to be able to say to all my dear friends and loved ones in the LGBTQ community: I know that these attacks are reaching/affecting you in a way that I cannot fully know, in the way that you do, however hard I try. But please know that I love you, and stand with you. Know that you are never alone. That you are powerful beyond measure. That together, we can be powerful agents of change, and radical creators of love.

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The horrors of the Orlando attacks are a product of intense fear. Intense silence. It’s mind-bending, ugly, and devastating as we try to wrap our hearts around how a thing like this could happen. As much as we may understand that that leaping into action is key, I also feel like we have to examine our emotional response to such events and take care of ourselves properly, so that we can be of the best service to those who need it. It seems to me that a possible first step in beginning to cope with all of this, is recognizing that during times like these,  grieving is going to look radically different for everyone. Some people will:

  • Get angry
  • Get sad
  • Get vengeful
  • Get quiet
  • Get loud
  • Get distracted
  • Maybe something else entirely

(I think) it’s important to allow ourselves this grieving, in whatever form it takes. Allow ourselves to feel whatever it is that we feel inclined to experience, without judgement. And do our best to allow others their own process, even if it is different from ours, and possibly frustrating to our sensibilities. And then once we’ve allowed ourselves the full expression of emotion, we act. And we act together.

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This is the part that can feel absolutely paralyzing. How? What do we do? The enormity of it all can feel crushing. But we’ve got to have hope. And when we forget what hope looks like, we extend our hand and hope someone will grab it. And when no one does, we go out searching for a hand to grab, and keep moving forward until we’ve got a long string of hands, and realize that we’ve created the hope we’ve been searching for.

I think that we help each other figure out what we can do. We ask. We research. We open our ears, and listen. We open our mouths, and share. If you haven’t already checked these out, this is what I’ve collected/found/have to offer.  Please feel free to comment with your own ideas and discoveries.

  • The Huffington Post is always on it – look here
  • Come see this cabaret at freeFall Theatre if you are in the Tampa Bay area, or organize a fundraiser of your own
  • Consider this. This, this, this!
  • Check out these two sites here, and here
  • Share art, work, and stories that promote understanding, love, acceptance. When you can’t find enough of it, create it
  • Engage in a dialogue, and be a listening ear for those who need it
  • Spread love aggressively. Persistently. Fearlessly.
  • Consider this:

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Keep loving, Celebrationists. Hang tight to each other, and remind someone that they are not alone.

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