Southern Tier Voices: I’m Scared, But Still I Rally
by Dawn Bush
There’s a rally tonight to support the LGBTQ+ community. Not a rally, a candlelight vigil. It’s for the victims of the Colorado Springs shooting that took place just over a week ago. Five people died and 18 were injured. I want to go, but I’m scared. I’m a member of the LGBTQ+ population and I’m afraid that someone might get it in their head to do something just as awful, locally.
As a member of the gay community I’ve always been a little scared to be open about who I am. Discrimination and the killing of gay people is nothing new. That said, over my life time people have become more accepting. It has seemed safer to be myself. We celebrated National Coming Out Day last month and I was moved by the stories of those courageous enough to tell their stories. Unfortunately, I’m more scared now than I have been, and even more than I was 30 years ago.
I’ve been to lots of marches and rallies. Pride, Black Lives Matter, Women’s Rights, Gun Rights, Climate Change, political rallies … My wife recently asked me why I was attending a rally. What would it accomplish, she wanted to know? I feel I can do so little. Going to a rally, marching with the oppressed, is the one thing I can do to show people they aren’t alone. To show the community that there are people like them, for them, to show support, and let them know there are like-minded people willing to stand up for the same thing – for them. It’s also nice to meet and be surrounded by those that share the same beliefs and values.
It hasn’t been until the past few years that I’ve become scared to attend a rally. People might think, 'Oh it can’t happen here.' Guess what? They’re wrong. In 2001, a student at Southside High School was arrested at the school with a semiautomatic weapon and an array of homemade bombs. The shooting at the Top’s in Buffalo was by an 18-year-old from Conklin, NY – right down the road from here. This racist attack left 10 people dead and three injured. Unfortunately, in today’s America it can happen anywhere. A LGBTQ+ club, a church, a school, a grocery store, a Walmart, a college sports bus, let’s face it, anywhere.
I’ll continue to go to marches and rallies, but I’m scared. More scared than I’ve ever been. I ask myself, 'how can there be so much hate in the world?' Hate crimes based on race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or disability continue to rise. I consider where I’m standing. Should I stand here so I can duck behind this bench if someone starts shooting? Should I try to stay away from the edges of the crowd in case someone drives by and starts shooting or be at the edge so I can run? I listen to the speakers with an eye on the street and another on the crowd wondering, wondering if the next attack will be here.
We have to continue to march and rally. We can’t let hate win.
About this Feature
Southern Tier Voices is a feature that invites area members to share their thoughts, knowledge and information on topics of interest with the community. To contribute to Southern Tier Voices, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.