The CBS Evening News just ended and it has left an impression on me. The Orlando tragedy has been the focus of every news broadcast but the reports are all over the place and hard to comprehend all of this information that is thrown into the report. But the 30 minutes of news that I just watched were more about the survivors’ stories than any of the other information about the shooter. I was transfixed by the interviews of these people and the images of the vigils and the tear-stained faces of the people who are there supporting one another and it made me want to cry along with them.
I also wanted to immediately post something on Facebook about how touched and saddened I am by all of this. So many of my Facebook friends have already gone into great detail about their feelings about this horrible event and yet, I don’t feel that I can do the same. I am employed at a Catholic school and at the same time, I do work for the Catholic church that is attached to the school. I’m friends with my priest on Facebook and even though Pope Francis himself has come out and given prayers for those affected by what happened, I feel unable to the same. Certainly this is not about me. There are bigger things to worry about at a time like this. And even though one of the survivors interviewed on the news said this wasn’t a hate crime but a crime against people, I can’t help but be reminded of the misguided people that I know in my life that I wish I could speak out against. The janitor at my school posts things on Facebook that make me want to bang my head against the wall. One recent post said “You can be gay. You can be a Christian. But you can’t be both.” He also posted a meme that showed something underlined in a Bible that supposedly explained why being transgender is against what it says in scripture. Living in North Carolina means that the controversial House Bill 2 (HB2) is on the news at least once a day. At our end of the year teacher luncheon, my principal said that the superintendent of Catholic schools for our diocese told the principals not to make any comment to the media if asked about the president’s mandate about schools and transgender students. She responded by saying that it’s a good thing we don’t have any of those _______ kids here. I want to say that she used the word ‘funny’ in that blank. Whatever the word was, it made my stomach twist to hear her say that. Our priest was sitting at the table with us and he didn’t join in that particular conversation.
As a teacher in a Catholic school, I have to be very cautious about what I say. I have to censor what I put on Facebook because I can lose my job over what is posted there. I’ve seen teachers in my school be called to the office over a group picture of them with wine glasses in their hands. This part of my job sucks. I want to scream at the janitor and my principal that it’s not wrong! Being a person in the LGBT community is not immoral! This is not a choice that these people have made. I don’t know a lot about people who are LGBT as I have not really been friends with anybody who is, however, I’m pretty sure it is not a choice. I believe that people are born this way. If that is the case, God can’t possibly condemn these people for something they have no control over. So how is it acceptable that we condemn them?
Because of being diabetic and the numerous medications that I take, I can’t donate blood. But what I have decided to do, is send a care package to an organization that I discovered in New York City. I can’t remember the acronym of the church, but it’s a shelter for teens who have come out to their families and have been thrown out of their homes as a result. There are charity knitters who make hats and scarves and things to send during the winter months, and hand-knit towels and washcloths during the summer months. I plan on doing the same. I have always been a huge advocate for journal writing. It got me through the agonizing teen angst that we all experience. I want to buy a stack of journals and inscribe each one with words of support to be given to the teens seeking shelter. Now more than ever, I want to show my support in whatever way I can. The host of the CBS Evening News ended the broadcast with the message that the gay pride flag is an important symbol now because there’s always a rainbow after the rain.