During my subway ride this morning, I wondered if I should call my family before I go to the Pride Parade on Sunday...in case something horrible happens & I don't come back.

I've only been going to the parade for the past two years. I've really only been out for three. And I guess this is the first explicitly declarative statement I'm making online that I'm queer. For someone like me, the decision to attend Pride was an easy one. Marriage equality, trans representation, general acceptance: literally rainbows lined the yellow brick road to the parade route.

But this year feels different. The hate crime committed last week in Orlando has unsettled me. And I'm not afraid; I refuse to allow fear to dictate my actions. Besides, the outpouring of grief, shock, outrage, and love that has surfaced for the victims proves that goodness exists. What unsettles me is the reactions by those in power & the implications of their indifference.

I work with kids, and in order to be taken seriously, I have to follow through on the rules I make. If someone's willfully disrupting the harmony of after-school life, and I told that kid I'll move them away from their friends if they make any more noise, I have to follow through. I HAVE to. Otherwise, my voice of authority gets drowned out by the noise, and the kid will think, "Well then, I guess it's all right."

The lack of immediate gun control reforms by our government, the erasuremarginalization of people of color (in this case, specifically Latinx) by the mainstream media, and the adamant & incredibly dangerous perpetuation of Islamophobia all trouble me. Because the inaction implies to those wishing our community harm, "Well then, I guess it's all right."

It's not all right. It's not right. We are not okay.

Personally, New York City provides visibility that didn't exist where I grew up. When I moved here, I no longer felt singled out by my skin & my ethnic ambiguity. I no longer felt utterly isolated by my sexuality or my body. I breathed the same air as people who looked, sounded, acted, thought like me.

As I was figuring out who I was (& this feels way more shameful to admit than being gay), I watched A LOT of videos on YouTube. This one channel, shep689, featured daily vlogs by a interracial gay couple named Will & RJ. Their content didn't exclusively focus on issues of sexual identity & self-expression, but watching their videos was honestly a huge catalyst for me coming out.

I still love their channel (watch their reaction to Orlando above), but I do wonder what caused me to relate so intensely with these two people I'd never once met. With a critical eye, I think the appeal of their channel and others like it lies in the empowering experience of watching non-normative people tell their own stories in their own voices. It's like, if they can do it, so can I.

In an age where the image is the most effective mode of communication (see emojis, Snapchat, Instagram, etc.), the ability to present our bodies historically been "othered" becomes an act of empowerment, of political importance, of revolution. Because for years, marginalized people have lacked the ability to capture and share our lived experiences beyond our own communities. The era of the Internet means that anybody can share their bodies & their stories with anyone who clicks a link at any time. The days of sweeping generalizations & empirical categorization are drawing to a close.

So when those with power opt out of intersectional representation and refuse to protect marginalized communities, they reinforce histories of oppression that benefit the few while trespassing on the human rights of many others. I believe they're not used to the push-back that digital platforms & an expanding access to opportunities are allowing us. And so, we're facing harsher indifference in rebuttal, in attempts to tell a single story.

If I don't go to Pride, I'm allowing other people to tell my story, and the story of my community, as one dictated by fear. And I refuse to allow that to happen. So I'll be there, with my tribe. We are not okay, and we will not be quiet.