Some thoughts on Orlando, Christianity, and the choices we have ahead

I don’t like to write right after a tragedy such as the one in Orlando. As a straight, White(ish), Latino man, I get enough chances to speak as it is. My voice is not the one that should be heard. I ought to shut up and listen.

But I have thought a lot about this tragedy and about my own life. I have tried to put my thoughts in order. I guess that’s what I have a blog for, so here you go.

This mass shooting was homophobia. Plain and simple homophobia. A homophobia that society has nurtured for years and years. The homophobia that is strengthened when we stay silent after a family member says that homosexuality is not normal, after our priests and preachers tell us that gay marriage puts families at risk, after we shout “puto” in the stadium when the goalkeeper kicks the ball in fútbol…

Homophobia is part of our world, it is part of our society. It is part of us. It is part of me, whether I like it or not.

But no more.

Not after this. Not after 49 people were gunned down in a space that was supposed to be safe, by a man who should not have hated himself so much. This is sad. This is intolerable. This is too much. This cuts deep into all of us. This is more than terrorism, this is hate. This was not a political statement with collateral damage; this was a vicious, cruel, premeditated, targeted assassination of men who are already disenfranchised because of who they are. Because of who they love.

And we, as Catholics, as Christians, as people who supposedly claim to follow Jesus, we are to blame above most, above all but the person who pulled the trigger. Because we have stood silent when our leaders railed against gay marriage. Because we did nothing, or didn’t do enough, when our friends started campaings to fight “for the families” (and against non-heterosexual families). Because we barely blinked when we saw relatively minor expressions of homophobia. Because we allowed our leaders, our priests, our bishops, cardinals, and Popes, to keep telling us to “hate the sin, not the sinner,” even if the so-called sin is a fundamental part of who they are. Even if that means we call them sinners for being just the way God made them: beautiful, cheerful, gay.

And we claim to love them, in their sin. We say, along with Pope Francis, that we can’t judge. But that’s not enough. Inaction is not enough. Silence is not enough. Silence in the face of oppression is nothing short of complicity. Inaction against injustice is nothing short of injustice.

It is high time we do more.

Yes, there are Christian and Catholic voices who are allies of or collectives of our LGBTQ siblings. And we try to speak up, and we try to love and be better. And we organize panels, events, and maybe sometimes even talk about it with our friends and families…

But it is not enough. We can’t stand in the middle anymore. I can’t stand in the middle anymore. Not while my Church continues to celebrate hate, injustice, and oppression. It’s time to make choices. We can either commit ourselves fully to change it, to make it the loving, welcoming, and nurturing place it should be, or we can leave it to rot by itself, the dead carcass of a once beautiful dream.

Staying in the sidelines is no longer an option. Not while hate remains inside. Not while people are getting killed in our name and in the name of our saviour who taught us to love to the extreme. If we are to follow Jesus, we must always take the side of the oppressed, of the margins, of those who suffer. This is what Jesus did, and that’s what got him killed. It may be uncomfortable, but it is His way. And His way is true and alive. It rests on us to follow.

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