As Americans try to make sense of the deadliest shooting in US history, musicians are also piecing together what the Orlando massacre means for them. The attacks in Paris started in La Bataclan, with Islamic extremists targeting the Western values and freedoms embodied by the musical scene around Eagles of Death Metal. But now, gay musicians have extra cause for concern, as homosexuality may be an intensified target of gruesome, religiously-fueled hate crimes. In fact, the Orlando massacre is the single largest attack ever against the LGBT community.
This morning, Ed Droste of Grizzly Bear, who has been openly gay from the start and a major source of inspiration to gay and lesbian fans, offered this statement on his Facebook account.
“More and more as I get older I forget and perhaps willfully dismiss how insanely lucky and privileged I was to grow up in a very supportive family and school system in so many ways but especially in regards to my homosexuality. The fact that I can count on one hand where I’ve been verbally gay bashed is a blessing compared to most.
When I started the band there were a lot of questions about how to address my sexuality. I said put it in the first bio and let it be. Despite taking longer than most to come out perhaps just because I wasn’t comfortable in my skin, by age 24 when we were getting ready to release Horn of Plenty I was comfortable enough to be proudly out in the music community.
Initially I never thought much about that decision because nobody was coming to our shows. However, as we grew young teens would approach me at the merch table, sometimes trembling and crying, thanking me for simply being openly gay and in the indie rock world. As these instances increased, the importance of being loud and proud and caring to the community hit me harder and harder. I would receive DMs on all social media platforms from scared people in the LGBTQ community asking my advice. As best I could I would try to help, but knowing not everyone is as lucky as I was, simply saying “don’t worry, come out you’ll be fine” seemed often like reckless and dangerous advice.
Today is a reminder that we all can still feel rightfully scared and angry but let us try our hardest to reach out to one another and provide support and love, especially to those that need it most and are living in unsafe or unsupportive communities. These vulnerable LGBTQ people need as many messages of success, love and support as they can get in order for them to ever fully feel comfortable celebrating their innate greatness.
There have been many times I’ve felt lesser than within the gay community. Now is not one of them. Now we are all the same and all mourning. My love goes out to everyone in Orlando but everyone world wide who has to struggle just to be gay. There are multiple countries where being gay is served with a quick government sanctioned death penalty. We must remember these millions too. Even when I think we have it lucky here a horrific tragedy like this happens and is a sobering reminder how much further we have to go.
It would be tone-deaf in the same post not to address the disgusting gun problem the US has. How many people year after year need to be slaughtered to enact tough gun laws? Children, Planned Parenthood workers, Movie watchers, Office workers…..nobody is safe from this violence because we as a nation encourage it with our gun laws. This has to and MUST stop. We are at a serious risk of being completely desensitized to this in a few years, and with every lessening response, we are losing our humanity.
I’ve never marched in a pride parade but if I get the opportunity to this month, or next year I will….and as soon as I see any of them, I will hug all of my LGBTQ friends as hard as possible. Right now I’m on the top of a mountain making music sad as one ever could be. Stay strong and safe. ❤️?❤️?❤️?❤️”