By Henry Amador-Batten
Every year for Father’s Day I write.
I write like so many gay fathers do about our shared and yet unique experiences.
Usually, I write about what it’s like to be raising children in a two father household.
I write about what it’s like when a school only has our kids send one Father’s Day craft home even though they know our children have two.
The same school, that only a month ago sent home a paper mache bouquet for a non existint mother.
I write about the challenges we face being treated equally in a world that still sees the ideal home as one in which only a mother and father should be raising children.
I have written about my own fathering challenges as a man who was abandoned by his very own.
I have written about lessons learned, friends lost, obstacles overcome and the trials and tribulations that go along with simply being a parent.
I have even written about the many amazing female influences in our son’s lives and in those of my husband’s and I. The poweful female spirits that made us the men that we are and will hopefully do the same for our boys.
I have however, never written a Father’s Day article while I sit with a broken heart.
I have never written while tears still flowed down my cheeks and while my boys ask me what was wrong.
I have never written while I felt fear and confusion and an anger beyond belief.
I have never written while I felt as though my life and the lives of my husband and children could be in danger.
Yet here I am, writing.
For as long as I have placed pen to paper or finger to keyboard I have always been honest about who I am and who we are.
I have always used our real names, many writers don’t.
I have always included real images of our family, others wouldn’t dare.
If you’re wondering, why the answer is simple, I believe that with honesty comes change. I believe that the more people got to know us and relate to us and understand us the more readily they would be to learn to accept us.
Not tolerate us but fully accept us.
Today I am questioning everything.
On Sunday, June 12th 2016 a gunman, who’s name I will not dignify by including here, walked into a gay night club in Orlando Florida and shot 102 of my fellow LGBTQ brothers and sisters, killing 49.
What’s being called the worst act of terrorism on US soil since 9/11 has literally brought me and so many of my loved ones to our knees.
While I did not know any of the victims personally, six of them were loved by friends that I do know.
Today, mere days later, I am still trying to find a place and a way to put it away, I find myself bubbling up with anger when people seem to be moving right along, when my straight allies change their profile pictures from the rainbow flag of support to a the puppy photo that signifies it’s just another day.
Too soon, I think to myself, how can you not still be as devastated as I am?
As so many of us are.
I read an article on HUFFPOST by Lindsay Holmes titled ‘Here’s Why You Feel Actual Pain Over The Orlando Shooting” apparently it’s called vicarious trauma and it is brought on by being able to relate to the victims.
I am an extremely compassionate man, I feel for the losses that so many experience in our world and yet this trauma hits me somewhere new. I can and do relate to these people because I am these people.
Change the scenario a bit and have that same shooter attack at our upcoming pride event. An event that my family attends regularly and how would that look?
Perhaps the opening of the LGBTQ film festival while we all sit to enjoy a film, what then?
You see, this tragedy hits my family in a very personal and terrifying place.
For the first time ever on this Father’s Day I am examining how well I can actually keep my family safe.
I am looking at my neighbors with a new and extremely uncomforting perspective.
I live in NC where our Governor and General Assembly recently passed HB2.
The climate of hate and bigotry here is palpable and real.
With so many people of power continuing to spread that very hatred and bigotry I have now come to fully understand that they open a door that is being entered by people that think our family would indeed be better off dead.
Wow, harsh to hear right? Well imagine writing those words.
This is not an over exaggeration, Orlando proves that.
I am not making a mountain out of a molehill, Orlando proves that.
There are killers out there being fueled and driven by the GOP, Orlando proves that.
My life and the lives of all openly LGBTQ citizens in this country are in danger, Orlando proves that.
On this Father’s Day and perhaps for many to come my greatest and most all-encompassing job will be too keep my family safe, healthy, happy and yes, even alive.
Orlando proves that!