It was a year ago on Sunday morning when I heard that there was a shooting at a night club in Orlando. I was preparing my usual Sunday morning publication here. I prefer on Sundays that I should do publications that give glory to God. As such any story about a shooting at a night club was not something I would bring to this forum on a Sunday morning.
I was in my Sunday School class at 9:30 that morning as prayer requests were being taken. I knew that there had been some kind of shooting in Orlando, as there are shootings all over the Country on any given weekend. Shootings have become so common that they had formed a callous on my mind. It was just another weekend and just another shooting. Just another shooting. Wow.
I never thought to ask that we request comfort from the Holy Spirit to be upon the victims and families of the victims who had gotten shot the night before in Orlando.
Then as we went into the morning worship service more news of the shooting came from the pulpit as we opened the service with prayer. We learned that there were mass casualties. Appropriate prayers were offered by our congregation.
After I got home I learned more details about the shooting. It was a terrorist attack at a gay night club. I have a gay co-worker who works part time as a Bartender at a historic gay night club here in Jacksonville, at the Beach. He had just been in Orlando the previous weekend and had planned on being there the following weekend, when the shooting happened. Then I realized that there was a possibility that Tony was down there and could have been in the Pulse Night Club. I realized that there was a possibility that my friend Tony was dead. I realized that though he worked in the cubicle next to me that I had never shared the Love of God with him. I realized that if all those possibilities were in fact a reality, that I was going to be held accountable for not sharing with Tony what God had so freely given to me. A mild form of panic began to set in.
Most Christians believe that people in the gay community really don’t like them very much. Many Christians believe that the gay community views the Christian Church as being synonymous with the Westboro Baptist Church. As such many Christians don’t know how to reach out to share the Love of Jesus Christ with the gay community because they think it has to be more complicated than it is. For me it began on Monday morning when Tony came walking into work. I had to give him a big fat hug and tell him how happy I was to see him, how happy I was that he wasn’t down there. It turned out that he had changed his plans and worked in town Saturday night.
That was the day that Tony and I became much more than just co-workers. I was filled with a sense of urgency to share the Love of God with him and all of his friends in the gay community. I had to get over myself and quit making things so complicated. I needed to quit imagining how it is that others see me and start thinking about how it is that God sees me. The only way I could do that was just let go of the things that sought to hold me back and go with the opportunity that the Holy Spirit was providing.
There were many other people in many other places doing exactly the same thing. Americans of all backgrounds were reaching out to offer comfort and support to the people in Orlando. Then Erin Palette started Operation Blazing Sword. This provided LMT and I the opportunity to go to places we had never been before. One such place is where Tony works part time. We went out there one Saturday night with business cards in hand, giving contact information for Operation Blazing Sword. Everyone who took a card was genuinely impressed that there was such a quickly organized effort to offer help to the gay community with firearms instruction. It was an ice breaker, an opportunity to meet new people that would eventually lead to opportunities to share God’s Love with them.
In this past year I have seen some things that many men never see nor can they imagine. It has helped me to understand some things about the Pulse Night Club Shooting. We know that a sizeable percentage of gay men spend a good bit of time in the gym and are in excellent physical condition. Many of us have asked ourselves why it is that several buff-n-stuffs didn’t get together and overpower Omar Mateen early into the shooting. First of all, it’s easy for people who weren’t there to imagine what could have been done differently. Secondly, when gay men go out on the town the thought of having to defend themselves in a mass shooting is not something that is on their minds. When the shooting started, panic set in and panic breeds more panic.
Of course Operation Blazing Sword was designed to get gay men thinking about defending themselves with a firearm so that they will not have to think of themselves as powerless to seize control of their own personal security in any situation. In spite of the effort very few have taken advantage of the opportunity that Operation Blazing Sword provides. Why is that? For lack of a better way to express it, there are some men who are just too gay to own a gun. They are so gay that nobody or nothing is going to rain on their big fat gay parade. They aren’t devoting any time or energy into learning how to kill somebody. It’s just not their thing. One competition Tranny says that he/she has decided that the best defense is to wear a Burka out on the street, that way nobody will know what they are looking at.
This year Tony invited LMT and I to come down and see a Macy Gray concert with him and his friends during Gay Days. The concert was at the Parliament House on the Orange Blossom Trail. It is a notorious destination in the gay community. I thought it would make a great opportunity to anonymously drop copies of the Audacity movie DVD all around the place. When LMT’s Daughters learned of this they put their foot down. There was no way we should be going down there on essentially the anniversary of the Pulse Night Club Shooting. They were a little freaked out so we didn’t go.
It was a good thing that we didn’t go. I’ve always wondered what the inside of that place looks like and Tony helped me figure that out with some live streaming. Wow. I’ve seen Mud Wrestling. I’ve seen Jello Wrestling. I’ve seen Coleslaw Wrestling. Now I have seen what a “Bubble Pit” looks like. I’ve seen what Tony’s boyfriend looks like dancing on stage in his underwear. I don’t think that is a place where I can casually blend in.
What I did not see but really, really wish I had been able to see, was the Violence that took place at the Parliament House last weekend. Nobody heard about this on the news. Nonetheless, it did happen.
A young black man dressed only in a pink hoodie and pink panties tried to gain unauthorized access to Tony’s room. When Tony challenged him the young man chose to start throwing wild punches at him. Tony counter-attacked, sending the young man flying backwards out the door where he smashed his head into the steel hand rail on the catwalk and then smacked his head on the concrete so hard that you could hear it hit over the music of the concert. The young man was rendered unconscious. For the remainder of the weekend everybody knew who not to start any crap with. Tony doesn’t need a gun to handle his business.
In the year that has passed since the Pulse Night Club Shooting there haven’t been many gay men who have decided to go out, buy a gun and get some instruction on how to use it effectively. What they have learned is that there are a lot of people who care about them and their safety. They have also learned that there are a lot of Christians who will do what they know to do to share God’s Love with them. We know that God’s Love draws everyone closer to Him and draws us all closer together. In the end that is far more beneficial to anyone than owning a Gun.
Some say that Water is the “Universal Solvent”. Perhaps from the standpoint of what is physically observable and measurable, it is. Love is in fact, the universal solvent. Its effects are observable but cannot be physically measured, yet it has been demonstrated to be the most powerful force in the Cosmos. Whoever you are please understand that this Love that I speak of is much bigger than you. No matter who you think you are, your life was purchased at a price far higher than you can ever comprehend in this life.
Claim it at the foot of the Cross.