By Marsha Aizumi
I woke up on Sunday, and my heart broke into a million pieces. Filling the news was the massacre in Orlando. It happened to those I didn’t know, but I fought so hard to keep safe. I thought about the mothers who went to sleep unknowing and woke up finding out their sons were dead. I could feel my heart close up . . . I could feel my spirit begin to lose hope. The world just felt less safe for Aiden.
My heart shudders at the thought that someone who doesn’t even know my beautiful child would want to harm him because of the fear and judgment that is sweeping the country. But when faced with things they don’t understand, people too often allow themselves to be consumed by fear, distrust and hatred and not compassionately seek the truth.
I mourned, but I didn’t cry. All I felt was numb.
But the LGBTQ community is strong, and so thousands of us came together last night, with so many straight allies there to support us. It was a vigil organized by the Los Angeles LGBT Center in front of Los Angeles City Hall.
Many of us clung to each other as the Los Angeles Gay Men’s Choir sang the song “True Colors.” There were people crying and some even sobbing. We heard speeches. The names of the people murdered in Orlando were read along with their ages. It was a night to grieve, to support each other, to talk about this devastation, to find strength, but most of all to come together with love, so that those who would bring fear, shame and hatred to our door would not be allowed to come in.
Okaeri 2016 was at the vigil. Originally coming together for our monthly planning meeting, our group decided that we all needed to attend the vigil to be with the community and heal our hearts. It is not possible to passionately do this work, if we don’t have hope.
But there are words, and there are actions. And so I thought to myself, “What are you going to do?” I used to think I am only one person, one voice, and so what can I do? Today, I know that one person and one voice can do so much. Am I going to use my voice for more peace and love or am I going to allow darkness and fear into my life? I will always choose love.
So here is what I vow to do. I will vote in the election for those who I believe will bring more peace and love with their leadership. I am not talking about just the president, but any elected official.
I will work to bring more visibility and voice to the churches, so that more leaders of faith will focus on love and not the words that describe the thinking of so long ago, no longer relevant in the modern time.
And today, I am going to have lunch with my son, so I can hold him tighter, tell him how much I love him and promise him I will work harder, so he does not give up hope that he can live a life of purpose and dignity. I want Aiden to know he is respected and valued for all of who he is.
Please help me create this kind of world for all of our children.
Marsha Aizumi is an advocate in the LGBT community and the author of the book “Two Spirits, One Heart: A Mother, Her Transgender Son and Their Journey to Love and Acceptance.”