We need more than love

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If you have been in any LGBTQ space in the past decade, you’ve prob­a­bly heard some vari­a­tion of “love is love.” Even be­fore I came out, love as a uni­fier has been a per­va­sive theme. When same-sex mar­riage was il­le­gal, it was a cen­tral theme. When the ban was over­turned, ac­tivists de­clared that love won. When the Pulse shoot­ing sent a rip­ple through our com­mu­nity, we were told that love, not hate, was the an­swer.

Even out­side of queer spa­ces, I hear this mes­sage. When­ever some­thing in­flam­ma­tory hap­pens, the love bri­gade comes out. If some­thing egre­gious hap­pens, we’re told that if we love each other enough, we can get through it.

The lat­est ex­am­ple is the chaos erupt­ing in Char­lottesville. In the wake of bla­tant white su­prem­a­cist ter­ror­ism, we are be­ing told that we need to love them through it. For­mer Pres­i­dent Barack Obama tweeted “Peo­ple must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love … No one is born hat­ing an­other per­son be­cause of the color of his skin or his back­ground or his re­li­gion.”

As I scroll through my Face­book and Twit­ter feeds, I see peo­ple par­rot­ing the same mes­sage. While all of this sounds great in the­ory, I can’t help but won­der if it is truly gen­uine. How far has try­ing to love our op­pres­sors through our op­pres­sion got­ten us? Would a hug or heart emoji have stopped Omar Ma­teen from storm­ing Pulse?

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is of­ten quoted when peo­ple in­voke this trope. He is seen as the shin­ing ex­am­ple of be­ing peace­ful and lov­ing. Yet, that didn’t stop the bul­let on that fate­ful day at the Lorraine Mo­tel. It didn’t pre­vent Heather Heyer and sev­eral oth­ers from be­ing mowed down by that car. The idea that love is love, from my ob­ser­va­tion, is typ­i­cally in­voked when the priv­i­leged, or com­plicit, don’t want the marginal­ized to com­plain too loudly. When the mar­ginal- ized get a lit­tle too loud, this su­per­fi­cial love is stuffed down their throats to pacify them. Those that re­sist this mes­sage are por­trayed as too ag­gres­sive or hate­ful. It is a ploy to stop peo­ple from chal­leng­ing the sta­tus quo. Af­ter all, no one wants to be the fem­i­nist, anti-racist or Tum­blr lib­eral killjoy. They get drowned out and walked all over by the love squad. Busi­ness con­tin­ues as usual and no real work is done.

If you truly love some­one, or peo­ple in gen­eral, you want to see them be­ing their full selves. You want to see them free and lib­er­ated. Si­lenc­ing some­one with su­per­fi­cial pos­i­tiv­ity isn’t love.

“How far has try­ing to love our op­pres­sors through our op­pres­sion got­ten us? Would a hug or heart emoji have stopped Omar Ma­teen from storm­ing Pulse?”

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