Reflections on After Orlando

from Quentin Williams of Project I Am You

To be painfully honest I really didn’t care before last night. Before “After Orlando”, the tragedy of The Pulse shooting didn’t really affect me. My identity as a gay male didn’t make it any more real. I knew those were innocent people but I was busy working, busy trying to pay my bills, busy trying to keep things moving forward in my own day-to-day. I didn’t pause to let the loss of those innocent lives at The Pulse nightclub shooting to sink in and touch me. I couldn’t. I didn’t want to stop moving. But the After Orlando dramatic readings caused me to stop moving long enough for the reality of the events that took place to take hold of me. The horrible reality that forced 49 young and beautiful lives to stop moving.

The reality is that truth is never easy to digest and many people will find any number of not-so-clever ways to use routine to keep them from feeling the weight of the world in which we live. But sometimes, we have to step away from our daily routine so that horrible events like what happened that night in Orlando don’t become part of the fabric of our culture. I didn’t know anyone who died that night at The Pulse and for a while that was my excuse for not allowing empathy to touch me. I saw how others in the LBGTQ community were affected by what was going on and I couldn’t relate until I sat in the audience at Taproot’s dramatic reading.

I now see the necessity of plays being acted out and read out loud in as many places as possible across the world. I can only imagine that there are billions of other people who, like me, found ways to block out the pain of those lives lost to hatred and senseless terrorism. I won’t use this space to preach about how every life matters and every voice deserves to be heard. I won’t even get poetic about what happened because no amount words alone can express fully the depth of emotion and solidarity that I felt sitting in the audience last night as the names of those 49 beautiful souls breathed again and took on life, if only in my heart as a result of the dramatizations.

There are too many people out there who choose not to see LGTBQ individuals as people. Through performances like After Orlando, those people live. Those people are allowed to be people again. Those people are given the privilege of having thoughts and fears, laughter and tears that are just as valuable as anyone else's.

Watch After Orlando. Support those 49 lives by giving a moment of yours to cherish what was lost. Maybe through the small act of sharing your heart, their lives will take on meaning beyond the events of that night. Maybe, your feelings will help change the future of some other innocent person. Thanks to Taproot, Riot Poets, the playwrights, actors all across the country who are putting on these performances because you are allowing those 49 dancers of Orlando’s tragedy to live again in pulse of the audience.