Associations and Their Stigmas

I woke up, at six this morning, to the same news most Americans awoke to – there was a shooting at a club called Pulse, in Orlando early this morning. The news played into ‘Sunday Morning’ and after it, details of other shootings splashed in between the repetitive coverage. It wasn’t until I logged onto my e-mail that I saw a picture of the shooter. The face was very different from what I remembered, but it wasn’t completely unrecognizable.

 

I can’t ever have claimed to be “friends” or even familiar with Omar Mateen. I had never gone to his house, unlike my other friends, nor had I ever met his parents. But Florida wasn’t like my home state. I spent almost all of my time in Southeast Florida saving animals, riding bikes, rollerblading, racing cars, on a trail, a tennis court, and in a pool. We were outside all day, every day, except for Sunday. I knew him once, a very long time ago. If I passed him sometime in the last seventeen years on one of my return trips I doubt either one of us would have bat an eye. Even still, it’s strange to think of any of the people I’d spent any amount of time with, growing up, would turn out to be anything less than fully functional. So few of the people I have and do know from Florida have ever revealed themselves to be an embodiment of the state as much as Omar has. Then again, that I subconsciously separated us from those shouting, intolerant, ignoramuses might say more about me and how I identified threatening people, even as a child…

 

They’re calling for people to donate blood now, to assist the survivors. I can’t because I’m underweight. Ironically enough, most of the survivors legally can’t give blood either. Not because they’re underweight, but because they are what labeled them targets in the first place. They’re homosexuals. I know that what should serve as a wake up call to discriminatory practices in states like Florida will go completely ignored, but one can hope. While the mayor and governor of Florida sit in denial and lie while calling this shooting a “terrorist anomaly” that “goes against what Floridians and Americans believe in”, I hope that, for once, we can get ahead of a story and finally do what’s right.

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