last year, stood in the “gold circle” at Wembley Stadium waiting for Rihanna, me and my best friend joked, in that dark way that betrays a little fear behind it, that should Anything Happen, we would be well insulated by our relative VIP status
“terrorists aren’t gonna pay extra for Gold Circle, right?”
(hahahaha… no but seriously, are we gonna be okay?)
it’s a sad indictment of The State Of Things that normal activities like going out dancing or enjoying live music are experiences we now temper with trepidation. we are young people, still, even in our late 20s (!) but we have never known life without terrorism on a global scale. I have never been through an airport without post-9/11 safety measures, for example. huge, cataclysmic events such as the Twin Tower attack or the 7/7 bombings are horrifying but relatively rare, whatever our saturated media may have you believe. still, there’s something about this kinda stuff, the almost domestic, every day shooting into a crowd or bombing the exit of a pop concert… there are obviously no rules of engagement for terrorism, and ANY attack is an awful tragedy, but at the risk of making a gross understatement – something about this kind of attack feels much more bad form.
targeted attacks on young people, (and in this case, primarily young women/girls) or attacks on LGBT communities naturally hit closer to home because I realise how easily it could be me, and how easily last night WAS some of my friends, people I know through the sheer beautiful fucking fortune of being united by love of pop music. it’s hard to process that something pure and carefree could make us targets. and yet…
when you exist on societies fringes, when you straddle minority lines, it’s every day something and it’s not always guns and bombs. some days it’s your Muslim friend having to defend her mother against someone who pulled off her hijab in a restaurant after the Paris attacks. other days it’s your trans friends having to justify their right to use the bathroom. tomorrow it could be a gay club got shot up or vandalised. yesterday it was violence against women in the streets, and violence against women in courtrooms. one time it was my baby brother being called “nigger” for stepping in to defend his cousin against some vile misogynist cat callers. but all the time it’s something. I am a brown girl with queer friends of multiple faiths. my way of life is CONSTANTLY under attack in some way. I’m fucking tired.
like 95% of the people in the world, I just want to BE, y’know? me and the people I care about, we’re not even trying to get ahead, we’re just trying to get by! we just want to be left alone. we want to be left alone by extremists with bombs and legislators in suits and gobs-for-hire on LBC. that 5 fucking percent on either end of the spectrum are fucking it up for the rest of us. if we get sucked up by either interested party we let each other down.
it’s hard to articulate how strongly I feel about having a stake in other people, but it’s really the only investment that matters. the stories of heroes coming out of Manchester all day, the donations raised, the photos from the vigil, the people on social media sending support or offering tips… that is what we are. I don’t believe that there is any force or faith or violent circumstance in the world strong enough to over ride that base human urge to connect with each other.
so even when it feels like things are hopeless, we have to remember how easy it is to fight back. the solution is so simple. we just have to go out and make friends. make friends with people who don’t look like us, or fuck like us, or believe in the same god as us. make friends with older people, younger people, people who are the same age. get online and make friends with people in other countries. go outside and make friends with your neighbours. collect friends. know their stories. tell them yours. understand them. love them because of the differences, not in spite of. we are not on earth to tolerate each other, or exist side by side in tight-lipped discomfort. we are not here to close in when we’re threatened and eye each other with suspicion.
we absolutely do not have to turn on each other when people who don’t give a shit about us manipulate us for their own agendas.