The Following Sunday

I’m feeling sad and naive about the joy-rade I went on after Salt Lake City’s Pride Festival.  I was drunk on the community love (or high on snow cones and cotton candy) and I indulged in a moment of Pride pride.

A week later, the progress I wrote about seems less absolute.  I still think we are going in the right direction, but God damn.  Why does it have to be so ugly?  Why does so much have to be at stake?

Of course I am talking about the shooting in Orlando.  It also seems that a shooting may have been prevented – one that would have targeted LA’s Pride Festival.  And of course I know that there are many factors at play, not just homophobia or religion or race, but all of those and who knows what else.  We will never know the nuances of why the incident played out like it did. My sadness isn’t focused on any one factor.  My sadness is focused on 49 individuals who aren’t here any more.  There is no reason.  It defies reason.

We were driving to Pride last week and I asked my friend’s two young boys if they knew why we did Pride.  They said no.  I wanted to ask what they supposed, but they were already annoyed that I made them turn off their electronics so I could try to have this conversation.  I wanted them to understand why it is important, but I didn’t want to give them the history.  I didn’t want to scare them (one of the boys has recently come out as gay) or depress them.  Mostly I wanted to set some expectations and try to prevent some of the whining that I endured last year.  Because it is all about me, really.  So I told them “Today is the day that we gather as a community and celebrate the fact that we get to be who we truly are.”  Then I told them that the most important thing was to have fun, and show people that are too stuck in the past to join in that they are missing a great party.  Then I let them get back to their games, and thought to myself “Maybe it’s good that they don’t know too much about it…  That it used to feel really brave to go to Pride.  They’ll learn the shitty stuff eventually…”

It shouldn’t feel brave to go to Pride.  Or a nightclub.  Or an elementary school.  I don’t want to hear about the other factors at play or the “real” reasons this happened. No civilian in this country should own a semi-automatic weapon. No one can make a sound argument to the contrary.

And yet nothing will change.  That’s the other thing that really hurts my heart.  I know that if we couldn’t enact sensible gun reform after two dozen first and second graders were murdered, we aren’t going to do it for a bunch of queer Latinos.  So my friend will have to sit her boys down and explain this aspect of our culture, if she can.  Maybe not this news cycle.  Or the next.  But soon.

I just hope that they can make some progress on the gun issue in their lifetimes.  Before too many more young people lose the futures that past generations fought for.


About Rachel Lewis

I am a writer, ceramic artist, knitter, and stepmom. As a playwright, I had six short plays produced in showcases and festivals in Manhattan, Salt Lake City, and Austin. My full-length play, Locking Doors, was presented by Wordsmith Theatre Company in The New Lab Theatre (University of Utah) in 2005. I co-wrote a teleplay titled “Thank God I’m Atheist” which won the 2015 “No God But Funny” contest founded by the Center for Inquiry. My short nonfiction essay, “It’s Coming Down,” was published by the online literary magazine Halfway Down the Stairs. My essay "The Red Rock Chronicles" was published in Contemporary West magazine. I currently work in pharmaceuticals professionally and write recreationally, but dream of making the transition to write professionally and do pharmaceuticals recreationally. I am a Utah native and live in Salt Lake City with my family and our Goldendoodle. I am working on a collection of humorous non-fiction essays and a second full-length play. Follow me at: @rachel_lewis_ut (Twitter) @rachel_lewis_ut (Instagram)

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