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Nick Jonas Spoke at the #WeAreOrlando Vigil, and Some People are Pissed

Nick Jonas Spoke at the #WeAreOrlando Vigil, and Some People are Pissed

Nick Jonas Spoke at the #WeAreOrlando Vigil, and Some People are Pissed

Sometimes being an ally means not taking the stage.

RachelCharleneL

Last night, Nick Jonas spoke at the #WeAreOrlando vigil held at the ever-important Stonewall Inn in honor of the recent massacre of queer people of color at Pulse. While some were thrilled to see the singer express his own reaction to the shooting and call for strength, others questioned the purpose and motivation behind the selection of the singer as a speaker.

Many were hurt by what felt like yet another form of erasure.

Stonewall holds great significance to the queer community. It is a symbol of the continued fight for justice, and liberation, by the LGBTQIA+ community. It’s where our fight gained traction and recognition and really began. To many, Stonewall means solidarity. And that solidarity doesn’t need to center cishet white men.

Especially when we consider the whitewashing of both queer history (remember the backlash following the Stonewall movie?) and what queer allyship looks like (we love to act like POC communities are homophobic, and white folks are the only allies we have), it feels like a slap in the face to give us, for some reason, Nick Jonas. It isn't that Jonas hasn't been an ally to the LGBT community. He's straight up rejected the idea that he should be a gay icon, signalling that he knows where is place is (and that isn't it!), and takes pride in playing gay characters. He canceled his N.C. concert with Demi Lovato when HB2 cropped up. He's proven himself as an ally in a number of ways.

And allies are important. And it’s important to recognize the value of having a vigil for trans and queer people of color to begin with, especially one with so much media attention. But it’s also important not to be complacent in our gratitude. Because while vigils were held and names were announced, many are still trying to deny the fact that the shooting of over 100 people had anything to with sexuality. Politicians who have done everything they can to keep queerness demonized well into 2016 are suddenly offering their prayers. It feels silencing. It feels watered down. And while we may not know all of the details of what compelled the shooter to massacre so many people, we can no longer strip crimes of the details that matter. And the fact that someone specifically selected a queer space means something.

In his speech, Jonas said, "My father, a minister from New Jersey, shaped my view that love is love and we are all equal. And that no matter who you are, where you're from, or where you're going in your life you have the right to love and be loved."

He wrapped things up by saying, "You are not alone," and, "New York is so strong and we ain't scared of anybody.”

But we aren’t only killed because of who we love. We’re killed because of who we are. And, right now? Many of us are so, so scared.

Jonas gets things right when he says that we’re not alone, because we’re not. We have our own communities, and they are stronger than ever. May we love and support each other, and continue to challenge a mainstream that waters down and ignores our pain in order to make it more palatable. Our pain is real, it is valid, and it is not theirs.

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

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Rachel Charlene Lewis

Rachel Charlene Lewis is a writer, editor, and queer woman of color based in North Carolina. Her writing has most recently appeared in Ravishly, Hello Giggles, and elsewhere.

Rachel Charlene Lewis is a writer, editor, and queer woman of color based in North Carolina. Her writing has most recently appeared in Ravishly, Hello Giggles, and elsewhere.