This weekend, I went up to Seoul for the first time in order to attend the Korean Queer Culture Festival, better known as Pride. Sunday night I made it home, exhausted but happy and full of love and optimism. Monday morning, however, was a different story. While I slept, dreaming dreams of love, equality and inclusiveness, a young man so full of hate he could no longer contain it took two substantial killing machines and a bomb into a nightclub known to be friendly to LGBTQ+ people, held them hostage in a standoff with police for about 3 hours, shot more than 100 of them, killing 49 in the single largest mass shooting in America by nearly double the body toll.
I thought I would spend this week going through my photos, writing down my memories and feelings about the amazing gift that was participating in KQCF, and sharing them with you. But instead, I woke up to a Facebook feed full of sadness, anger and grief, and I can’t pretend it didn’t happen.
I still want to share everything about this weekend because, as the most common slogan I saw there says, “love conquers hate”. I want to remember what love looks like and I want you to remember, too. It’s so important that we do not retreat into fear or fall prey to the temptation to hate back.
I want to share my thoughts about the tragedy because I need to process it. I need to work through it and get it out there. Many people are angry and confused. If reading my thoughts helps you process your own, please do so. If you aren’t ready to read it, or don’t want to read any more negative news, that’s ok too. I’ll be clearly labeling each section so you can read only the parts you’re into.
I’m not a journalist. I’ve never been great at responding at the speed of social media. I rely on real journalists for my facts and statistics, so I’m often behind the curve when it comes to posting about any big event because I’m waiting for the real journalists to do the heavy lifting. I’ll be spending at least the rest of this week working on the full post because I’m physically exhausted from the joy of the festival, and I’m emotionally and mentally exhausted from the sadness of the shooting. This post is all I can muster on short notice, so I hope you’ll come back and read the whole thing when it’s ready.
Best of all, I’m planning to write this as a “love sandwich” because the first and the last thing we read leave the biggest impression. So I’m going to start and end with stories of love, pride, freedom and hope because that is the world I want. That is the change I want.
A friend of mine in America messaged me to tell me that the news of the outpouring of support in Seoul at the Korean Queer Culture Festival helped her to see that there was still love and hope after the Orlando shooting. Although many of us in Korea felt the news in the opposite direction, the festival did have a positive impact, not just here, but abroad as well. It’s so important for us to remember too keep showing up, to keep loving and smiling and sharing in the face of these tragedies because our love is the only thing that can heal the mental and emotional wounds the violence causes.
So please remember: you are not broken, you are not alone, you are loved — always.