For the record, this is not about #OrlandoShooting, this is about the ‘daily discriminatory shooting’ that the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Queer (LGBTIQ+) community experience daily. The #OrlandoShooting is a reflection of the societies we live in, whether it’s in the US, South Africa or Brazil. Give me a chance to share my somehow selfish 2 Cents about the #DailyDiscriminatoryShootings from which the #OrlandoShooting finds its comfort. This comfort transcends geo-boundaries as best as we know them.
The other day, I went to a supermarket and in front of me in a queue was a white guy my age who, like me, was shopping and about to pay. The cashier was a white woman and she greeted the guy and asked him whether he was paying by cash or card, to which the gentleman replied ‘card’. The cashier then turned the card machine to the guy’s direction so he could administer his transaction. Transaction was complete and it was now my turn. Did I get a greeting? Nope! Did I get an eye contact? No! Did she ask if I am paying by cash or card? Yes! Finally, I get asked. In my mission to try my best not to catch feelings, I replied “Card!” Did she turn the EFT card machine? Nope! She then asked me to give her my card so she could administer the transaction on my behalf. I gave her the card and she did the transaction. When was done, I asked her why she’d treated me differently from the previous customer, and before she could answer I left. If you do not see what is wrong with this encounter, you are a #DiscriminatoryShooter like the cashier and I will not bother narrow it down for you.
I digress back to the LGBTIQ+ discriminatory shootings we experience on a daily basis that create an enabling environment for the #OrlandoShooter to exist. A good example is Mpho Tutu who was on the verge of being stripped off her right to practice as Reverend Canon of the Anglican Church had she not resigned because she married a woman. The Cape Town Diocese was instructed from the higher offices to revoke her licence on the basis of her marriage to a woman. Weeks later, Arch of Canterbury calls for Christians to pray for the victims of the #OrlandoShooting. You see, the church has created an environment that makes people like #OrlandoShooters to exist and feel comfortable and convicted that their views at whatever level of extreme are justified. The same conviction that the white Christian men who were part of the Ku Klux Klan had and went as far as lynching our black brothers and sisters in the US, is the same DNA that the #OrlandoShooter is made of.
Therefore, let us not act surprised and #PrayForOrlando. Instead, #PrayForRepublicans in the US to shift their legislative stance on same-sex marriages and gun control laws. #PrayForChurches to amend their church laws that recognise holy matrimony as a lifelong and exclusive union between one man and one woman. We should not downplay the role churches have in socialising people and normalising ideas that form part of an individual’s belief systems. The #DailyDiscriminatoryShootings come in a form of a lifetime ban of men who have sex with men (MSM) from donating blood without any sound scientific or medical reasons.
As a people, the #OrlandoShooting offers us an opportunity to reflect on how, on a daily basis, we discriminate against others such that people like Penny Sparrow calling black people monkeys, or #OrlandoShooters killing about 49 people and injuring 53 in a gay club feel confident to a level that they commit such atrocities. We need to be aware of our own contradictions and hypocrisy. We are first to complain about politicians that they do not talk to us or roam our streets unless it is campaigning seasons. This is because politicians are driven by the looming Election Day which motivates them enough to sing, dance and make moving speeches. We also do the same! People had to be killed for lawmakers in the US to start a process of reviewing gun laws. The LGBTIQ+ community had to be slayed; to a point where the Food and Drug Administration policy on banning MSM from donating blood was put on spotlight with the Democrats calling the policy to be reviewed since the LGBTIQ+ community was not allowed to save one of their own, because of the stigma attached to the gay community regarding transmission of HIV and Hepatitis.
In conclusion, all of us must think and act proactively towards erosion of injustices of any kind. It should not cost us a soul for us to do the right thing. Let us not wait for situations to deteriorate for us to start praying or reviewing policies nor thinking twice about our beliefs and actions.
“Blood mustn’t be spilt for us as a people to act.”
Senzo Hlophe is a member of the ACTIVATE! Change Drivers’ network of more than 2000 young change makers or “Activators” across South Africa who are finding innovative ways to transform their communities and the country as a whole.