I’ve been thinking a lot about pain, recently.
For those of you who don’t know, I live in Colorado Springs, Colorado: home of Focus on the Family, five military bases, 100+ evangelical ministries, and the Club Q shooting.
Our city has a problematic history.
Before Focus on the Family was paid $4 million to move to Colorado Springs in the 90s, our little town on the Rocky Mountain foothills boasted the largest queer space in the Western states (you can read more about this history in my cover piece for the Colorado Springs Indy). Since then, it’s voted to protect LGBTQ+ discrimination, ousted a megachurch pastor who had a same-sex affair, and currently has a house rep standing in support of an anti-gay lawsuit.
It makes being queer here very difficult.
But when I stood outside All Souls Church at their vigil, the morning after the Club Q shooting, I couldn’t help but feel connected with my queer siblings. Surrounded by mostly strangers, I could look into anyone’s eyes and know how they felt; I could turn to someone and hold them without knowing their name; I could stand with them and proclaim, with every fiber of my being, this isn’t okay.
Pain, especially when horrible and inexcusable, somehow unites us, somehow breaks down our walls and opens up our gates, and now, in the wake of a shooting, I can approach someone who I barely know and sincerely ask, “Hey. How are you doing? You need anything?”
Pain has the power to unite.
At funerals, strangers weep together for a life lost. When atrocities hit a nation, political enemies are united over a broadcast. Cis women, regardless of language or background or creed, can empathize and aid their fellow AFABs through the shared global pain of menstruation and childbirth (I talk about this at length on another post about pain)(Also, another aside: while I use cis and AFAB in this sentence, it is not to dismiss or alienate trans women. It’s for accuracy around the experience of menstruation and childbirth. Trans women have a powerful bond of shared pain that unites them more deeply than I could imagine, vividly seen in shows like Pose and Disclosure.)
Pain, if we let it, can be a super power, for every human, for all of us. It has the power to fuse us together in heat and pressure of its depths. There’s gold buried underneath all this shit. And now, more than ever, we have got to find ways to connect, to build bridges, to close the gaps. And maybe pain is the answer. Maybe pain is the unwelcomed relative that strolls into our house unannounced, yet somehow turns it into a home.
But pain, as powerful as it is, can only connect us when it’s shared. Share your pain. It’s not meant to be held alone. It’s too heavy, and we need all the hands we can get.
This post goes out to Daniel Aston, Kelly Loving, Ashely Paugh, Derrick Rump and Raymond Green Vance.
Post image via Colorado Public Radio.