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    It Is Not OK

    By Dr. Timothy Seelig

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    (Editor’s note: Dr. Seelig wrote the following piece on June 13, the day after the Orlando shooting.)

    Today, everyone is processing at their own pace and in their own way. My way is to write–and draw (in the sand).

    It is not OK … what happened in Orlando. On that we can all agree. It does remind us that there is so much more that is not OK.

    Today, I am finally angry enough, tired enough, “sick about it” enough and old enough to simply speak my truth and draw a line in the sand. Youngsters, don’t wait 30 years to draw your own line!

    Most of you know of my very deep Southern Baptist roots. I have countless friends and family deeply ingrained in this and other groups that categorically denigrate and/or deny my very being. Their distaste ranges from “bless his heart,” spoken with smiling lips and clenched teeth, to outright bigotry and hatred spewed from the institutions to which they belong.

    This is for my family, friends and acquaintances: It’s not OK.

    It is not OK to remain part of the organizations referenced above–churches, social groups, political parties–unless you are actively, and loudly, working for change within them and willing to take courageous stands in support of the entire LGBT community.

    It is not OK to give lip service to “acceptance” or “tolerance” while your very membership silently condones their beliefs and tangentially supports actions that are, at their very root, filled with hate for anyone who is different than you.

    It is not OK to believe that any person, other than military, needs assault weapons. They need to be banned—as they were under Clinton (the ban allowed to expire under George W. Bush). Gone. No questions asked. Find them. Destroy them. “Bearing arms” in 1791 has nothing to do with carrying an assault weapon down the street in 2016.

    It is not OK to continue the use of “sexual preference,” “lifestyle,” “lifestyle choice” or any other term that suggests I am anything other than exactly what I am–perfect. There is no preference or choice here. (And while we are at it, could we also get rid of “love the sinner, hate the sin” for good measure. No, you don’t.)

    It is not OK to ignore the elephant in the room with family and friends. For years, we have agreed to go our own way, live our own lives, live and let live and just not talk about it. It’s not OK. We will talk about it. Maybe even yell about it. And, most certainly, continue to sing about it.

    Life is too short to continue to try to change minds that are closed. Life is too short to accept “less than” from anyone. Life was cut way too short for those precious brothers and sisters who died yesterday … . It’s not OK.

    Today, I mourn them by saying It’s Not OK. Not for me. Not for any of my LGBT family. It’s Just Not OK.

    Dr. Timothy Seelig is the Artistic Director of the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus.