Staring Outside the Bubble: Reflections on the Orlando Shooting

I live in Toronto. Toronto has a bustling and queer community. Toronto is multi-cultural.

I live in a bubble.

Last night I went to sleep thinking about how I wish I went out to more queer events, that I was more a part of the community. Last night I wished I could just be gay instead of bisexual. Last night my biggest concern about my queerness was whether or not other queers could identify me.

I woke up today to realize how privileged I am. I feel safe shaving my head and checking out cute girls on the subway. I’m not afraid to go to LGBTQ+ events because I’m afraid of being outted or harassed, but because I’m worried no one will flirt with me.

With guilt, I find myself wishing I could go back to feeling that. I also find myself guilty knowing that eventually I will, because I live in this safe and happy bubble. I have a Facebook feed that is decrying islamophobia right along with homophobia. I’ve cultivated a very safe community. I’ve surrounded myself by people who will stick up for me when I can’t handle it on my own, even if they barely know me.

As I type this my heart is hurting for all the people that do not have what I have. I left my house today, and I was safe, and there are places in this country where that isn’t true. And I hate it and it hurts and I can’t change it.

I don’t mean to say Toronto isn’t perfect. It’s not the safest place on Earth, but in all my years of living in and around Toronto I’ve never been called a Paki or a terrorist for being brown. The majority of the people around me know there’s a difference between Muslim and Hindu cultures. But there are people who won’t like me, and I get dirty looks just getting on the streetcar, and there are people in my own city who are going to suffer more for this than I am.

I know as I walk down the street that I’m not being called a terrorist as I’m conforming to the whitest counter-culture trends. I don’t have to plan my day around when and where I’ll be able to pray. My grandparents all converted to Christianity so even if I wanted to display some aspect of my cultural background, it’s not going to be in religious traditions.

Today is a heavy day for me. Today I’m reminded where the anger and the rage comes from. Today I’m reminded why I need intersectionality to keep me safe. Today I remember that I live in a bubble, and it can so very easily burst.

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