Grief and Monsters

I’m not writing a typical Monster of the Week post this week.

After this weekend’s massacre, I’ve struggled with many feelings. Pain, anger, defiance – worst of all, the insidious feeling of powerlessness.

We’ve all heard the saying about pens and swords. Against an AR-15, my words do not feel very mighty.

I tried to turn to love and affirmation instead. I looked for some myths or fantastical stories that featured queer themes. But, given the theme of my blog – given that I would have to address the idea, however perverse, that some people believe these parts of me are monstrous – just thinking about it made me sick.

There is, of course, one person in the headlines who I could call a monster. His name and his story will not pollute this page.

So what is there to say?

To go silent, even on something as inconsequential as a blog about monster stories, feels like surrender. This weekend’s shooting was an attack on LGBTQ+ Latinx Americans. As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, silent is the last thing I can be.

I am queer, and I’m not going anywhere.

We will not be silenced.

So I’m going to write.

About what? I’ve written a lot about monsters: what makes a good monster, why monsters scare us. The big question, though, is this:

What makes a monster?

I’ve skirted around the edge of that question but rarely addressed it directly. It’s a big question, one ripe for debate, which takes on a different flavor with every topic I choose.

But now, it’s at the front of my mind.

Let me tell you something about all the monsters I’ve been researching. I love the Loch Ness monster, Bigfoot, vengeful ghosts, and so on – but I am a skeptic. I don’t believe they’re real.

Monsters are made from humans.

We came up with them, imagined them into existence – and why? When we call a person a monster, we are saying that they are so morally grotesque that they have become inhuman. We cannot wrap our minds around the atrocity. We cannot believe that we share a trait with such a person, even one as broad as our species.

“People are essentially good.”

We’d like to believe that. But if it’s true, how could someone be capable of something so horrible?

We excise that horrible part of our humanity and call it other. Call it “monster.”

But here’s what I’d like you to think about.

What does it mean when we deny that this ugliness is part of being human?

We love to look back at the darkest periods of our history – slavery, genocide, war – and condemn the people who let it happen. It’s scary to think that they were regular people, just like us. It’s safer to call them monsters.

That is a disservice to every one of their victims.

It lets us close our eyes to forces that draw out those awful, ugly parts of humanity until it is too late. Monsters don’t spring out of the ground full-formed. They are made. We can’t stop them if we refuse to watch where they come from.

So I ask that you be critical. Don’t take the easy way out – don’t meet hate with hate. Two monsters don’t cancel each other out.

And now… this is not something I normally do, but this is important.

Right now, there is a filibuster going on in the Senate to force action on gun control. I’m proud to say that one of my senators, Dick Durbin, is already there. I’ve called my other senator and even my house representative and asked them to take action. If you want to do something instead of just hoping this never happens again, please call your Congresspeople.

Everytown for Gun Safety can help you contact your senators here.

If you aren’t here for the politics, Time has a list of ways to help the Orlando victims, including a link to a gofundme where you can donate.

I’m sorry for the political digression. I’m even more sorry that I had to make it.

It should go without saying, but if you come at a post mourning victims of a mass shooting and try to bitch about how much you love your guns, I’m going to ban your ass into last century.

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