I’ve got Bonnaroo dirt in my ears, hair, belly button and God knows where else. My feet are hamburger, my voice is shot, I’ve been sweating it out in an RV with seven other people for three days, and last night I witnessed my favorite band Pearl Jam own the masses of Bonnaroovians as the Saturday night mainstage headliners. I’m 100% in my element, but I woke up this morning to news of the Orlando mass shooting at the gay club Pulse — which must have been happening while I blissed out to PJ — and I’m sitting here at Bonnaroo 2016 so nauseous I can barely move.
For some people, this latest act of senseless horror will be a headline they shake their head at for a few minutes before they get caught back up in their own lives and forget. But for me, out here surrounded by everything perfect in live music — positivity, sunshine and love — I know the fifty lives lost down in Orlando and the ignorance that drove it will leave a bruise in my heart. The truth is, any one of those dozens of people who died could have been me, my friends, my loved ones, my coworkers, or any of my fellow music fans.
Gay, straight, bisexual, transgender, queer, male, female, black, white, Latino, Asian, Middle Eastern — who ever you are — it could have been you. If you’re reading this site, it’s because you love music and pop culture, and no matter what you believe, where ever you stand on politics or guns or LGBTQI issues in America, you would not be you without the music you love. Music that wouldn’t exist without the LGBT community’s contributions and support. Music that has always thrived on pushing equality and openness forward. Music those fifty people were celebrating together in the midst of Pride month, as President Obama just said, “together… with friends, to dance and to sing, and to live” before hate walked in the door.
Because here’s the thing: no matter if you’re gay or not, and no matter who you are, you’re a human being. And in this moment when fingers start pointing and theories start spiraling out of control, I’m taking the time to remember that hate is the only enemy, and that music is part of humanity’s greatest magic for its power to inspire, to help us progress, and to heal. So today, please take a moment to put on your favorite song, to “dance and to sing and to live” and to remember these people, this tragedy, and reflect that now is the worst possible time to react with more intolerance, more hate, more indifference, or more amnesia.