I’ve been sitting in my studio today feeling like my art, all artwork, was pretty worthless in the face of monstrous acts of brutality such as what happened in Orlando this weekend. I’ve found myself at the point of tears listening to and watching news accounts of survivors, friends and family over the last two days. I can’t help but to take this attack personally.
My brother, who I see rarely, told me that he and his wife were at a Blackstreet concert a mere 100 yards away from the Pulse nightclub just 4 hours before the attack. The thought of losing him magnifies my general estrangement from my family. I’m a gay man and when I was younger I did frequent bars and clubs, though not so much lately. Nevertheless, I feel that I could have been one of those victims. I feel extreme anger at the attacker, Omar Mateen – who was apparently a gay man himself and also frequented the nightclub he targeted – for choosing such a selfish and some may say cowardly means to… I don’t know kill himself by cop. I don’t condone suicide but it seems to me that if he were so concerned about his potential exposure as a gay man he could have done himself in rather than involve others.
I’m also annoyed at the media for addressing this incident as chiefly a domestic but internationalized terrorist attack, subsumed under some general Islamic State cloak, rather than calling it a domestic and homophobic attack. One that is chiefly in my opinion about our obsession with guns and our deep and persistent problems with sexual identity. This shooting was the ultimate homophobic attack if its proven that Mateen was a self -hating gay man. I watched a YouTube video yesterday night that sums up my irritation nicely, it’s of a British Sky news interview regarding the shooting:
I’m also enraged that we live in a country that continues to think that more guns and prayers for the victims are the answer in the face of these near constant attacks. Why are AR-15 allowed on the streets. This assault rifle was the weapon of choice in several recent mass shootings. Hell at this point, and I think I said this is a previous post, I think we should do away with the second amendment. America is too sick a country, with our broken mental health system and ultra angry male population, to support laws that can let any crazy guy legally purchase a gun. We should take a page from the shut-it-down-king Donald Trump and completely shut down gun purchases in the United States until we can get a handle on our angry young male population.
Our choices this political season between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton could not be more stark today given their responses to the public over the Orlando massacre. Here’s Trump’s response:
And here is Clinton’s:
And for good measure here is the president responding to that idiot Trump’s idea to ban all Muslims coming into the country, which wouldn’t have stopped Mateen since he was a US citizen born in the US, and to punish communities that don’t give up info to the authorities on dangerous individuals in their midst.
I know that creating art is a small but powerful way of showing sick individuals, and misguided messianic terrorist groups that want to destroy our values, that we will fight to defend those values and that we will not be defeated. But I can’t help to from time to time feel that when faced with terrorism, economic uncertainty, an uninterested or distracted public and my own general mental state, that being an artist is too hard. I’ll carry on though because there no alternative for me, and because I feel a debt to those families and friends to live and create good art.
Hmm what music to go out on. How about Brad Mehldau’s “From This Moment On” to go out on a hopeful note. Until next time.