What happened in Orlando.

After the death of Christina Grimmie last Friday night, and the tragic shooting on Saturday night/Sunday morning, I feel overcome with grief and sadness. I have spent these past few days trying to wrap my head around these events, and I can't. I feel like I'm back in fifth grade, watching the footage of the planes crash into the World Trade Center over and over again. I was so confused then. Why did the planes crash? Didn't they know there were people in those buildings? How do you accidentally fly a plane into a building? Wait, it wasn't an accident? Someone did this on purpose? I thought bad guys were only in movies?

This time, though, I know the bad guys exist. I have read countless theories as to why the shooter did what he did, but I still am so confused. I don't understand how someone-the shooter from Saturday, the coward from Friday, the shooters in San Bernadino, the men that flew the planes on September 11th, the countless tragedies that happen each week because of hate and the inability to understand-I don't understand how a person can have so much hatred in their heart to affect, ruin, or end the lives of innocent people.

We suspect that the events on Saturday were an act of hatred again the gay community. I have read countless comments on articles that make me so proud to be a part of this country; there have been more posts about mourning the loss of the victims than posts about the "lifestyle" they chose to lead. And I have read several posts on Facebook that have assured me that the people I have chosen and continue to choose to surround myself with are the kind of people that I want to be tied to forever. I can confidently say that I know some really great people in the world. For the most part, there has been nothing but love and support for the victims and their families pouring from social media and the news outlets, and for that, I am so grateful.

But I read a post this morning that made me have to stop and think twice. One that showed more anger at the events than grief and sadness. And I support it. This person's post spoke to the fact that only one man pulled the trigger that night, but there is so much harm and hate toward the gay community on a daily basis. 

My question is, what gives one group of people the right to degrade, hate, or criticize another group's way of living? What would give any person the right to think that their way of life, and the choices they make, make them superior to any other person who may do things a little differently? This is America, and part of what makes our country so great is that we are allowed to have our own opinions. We are allowed to live differently than our neighbors, and still be accepted by others. The problem comes when certain people or groups of people are unable to allow others to live the way they choose. They don't even have to accept "the other way," they just have to be okay with other people not living the same life as them, but for some, and for who knows what reason, that's a hard concept to grasp. And I'm not just talking about sexual orientation. This goes for race, religion, sexual orientation, parenting styles, personal preferences, and basically just about everything else that makes a person who they are.

People disagree on things all the time, right? I personally like tomatoes, Brandon doesn't. I don't necessarily understand why he doesn't like tomatoes, but I feel okay about the fact that he doesn't like tomatoes, because that doesn't mean that I can't like them. On a deeper note, people disagree about politics literally all the time, and we somehow still find a way to work together, go to school together, and have relationships built on other things besides politics. Just because one person believes something doesn't mean that anyone standing in a ten foot radius of them has to believe the same thing. And it certainly doesn't mean that the two people can't be kind and cordial, or even friends with one another despite their difference in opinion.

So then why is a portion of the population not as accepting with certain lifestyles? If the Smith's eat dinner at 5:00, but the Miller's prefer to have dinner at 7:00, who should have to suffer here? Because everyone has to eat dinner at the same time, right?

I'm not afraid to state that I am in support of legalizing gay marriage. I have found so much happiness in my marriage to Brandon, and I want that for people that love...whoever they want, really. It would suck to have marriage in general taken away, so I say we give the right to anyone. A lot of gay couples have been together longer than married couples, even though they wouldn't even have to sign papers or go to court to separate. If they're committed, then why the heck not? The coolest part is, just because gay marriage is legal, that doesn't mean that I automatically have to divorce Brandon and marry a woman instead. Nope. My life changes literally not at all, and I get to be happy for all the people who have the newfound privilege of being tied (in a good way) to someone for the rest of their life.

I'm also in support of people choosing to be whatever religion they want to be. Brandon and I don't attend any church, but you can bet that no matter what religion our family and friends are, we would be right there supporting them at missionary farewells, bat mitzvahs, Lent, or whatever other things may be happening in their religious lives. And just because they are a part of their church, doesn't mean that we have to be. Just like we wouldn't force them to go to Disneyland on their Sabbath day (because anyone that knows us knows that is our church).

Some people might say that the events last weekend, and days past, could be fixed with gun control. I'm not even touching that subject, because who knows. What I do know, is that the issues could be stopped before they even happened if everyone just held a little more love in their hearts. I get that change is hard, and I get that it's not always easy to understand why a person chooses to live their life the way they do. One time Brandon put mayonnaise on a grilled cheese sandwich and I thought the world was going to come to an end. But, I got over it. Because if Brandon wants to put mayo on his grilled cheese, then he is entitled to that right. 

You know who wasn't okay with people living different lifestyles? Hitler. I'm just saying.

So do me a favor, and next time you feel like getting angry about the way someone lives their life, ask yourself if and how it affects you. And if it doesn't, let it go, move on, and learn to embrace the differences in those around you. The world would be an awfully boring place if we were all the same.