Shaun Baer

actor - singer - writer

A Time to Dance, A Time to Mourn

Captain's Blog - Stardate 61316.3

I am having difficulty responding to recent events. Being an actor and writer, words are pretty much my domain. Yet, finding the words for how I feel today is a challenge. There has been anger. There have been tears. There has also been laughter, love, and friendship.

But there hasn’t been action. Not from me, anyway. In fairness, there are things I am unable to do to help. By law, I am not permitted to give of my blood, as gay men are restricted from donating. We have been since the AIDS crisis in the 1980s. Even though all blood is tested for HIV, Hepatitis, and other dangerous diseases. Recent adjustments to this law are still rooted in fear and are unrealistic. (www.aids.gov)

There is a vigil this evening near my home that my boyfriend and I are planning on attending. Unfortunately, I know this will upset my mother. Not because she isn’t proud of me, but because she is terrified for me. She wants me to be safe. She wants me to live in a world where these kinds of things don’t happen. She is driven to make it so despite the futility of raging against those things we cannot control. She is my mother and no matter how old I get, she will always feel this is her job.

There’s a gofundme page established by Equality Florida that has raised $1.45 million dollars in the past 23 hours. I have given what I can, which isn’t much but is something. But even that feels like very little action. I want to do more.

One thing I can do is lend my voice to the conversation on gun violence. Not just through this blog, though I am happy to do so, but through my local, state, and federal representatives. I am preparing to do just that.

I am astonished that the gun lobby has been so successful in keeping common sense gun restrictions from taking hold. For example:

  • Automatic and Semi-Automatic military style rifles (AK-47, AR-15, etc.) have NO BUSINESS BEING IN CIVILIAN HANDS. This is not a weapon for protection. This is not a weapon for hunting. This is a weapon to kill the enemy. To level and incapacitate the enemy in battle. It has no other purpose.
  • If you have been interviewed by the FBI for suspected links to terror you should not be able to purchase a fire arm. 
  • A license and insurance should be required for gun ownership. These licenses, as with vehicles, need to be renewed and tests need to be passed.
  • The CDC must be allowed to examine the epidemic of gun violence in America.
  • Universal background checks must be standard practice for any gun sale. Period.
  • Limited purchase of ammunition just makes sense.

There are more ideas than are on this list, but these would be a start.

However, there is a greater problem than the gun control issue. There seems to be an inseparable conclusion I am drawn to extrapolate from recent events. There is hatred and fear in some of the political discourse of this nation. This hatred is fed by a lack of education and exploited by the leaders of many religious and political organizations. This fear is manipulated as a tactic to encourage blind commitment to broad-stroke policies and concepts with little to no basis in actual fact.

I strongly believe it is these methods of political coercion that have a strong effect on the domestic terrorists that wreak havoc on our country. Their religious affiliations are almost unimportant. No matter what side their heart falls on, this emotional agitation used to promote a political party, to stigmatize minorities, to convince people they are perceived as less than others, is at the root of the problem with this country. 

America has an anger management problem and there are people who are responsible for it. 

To my Republican friends, including and especially the gay ones, it is time for you all to take a stand against the hatred in your party. Stand against the Tea Party and their inflexible, uncompromising rhetoric. It will not be comfortable, but you can no longer simply side-step it or accept it as "those others" in your party. If you do not aggressively condemn this behavior, that makes you complicit and a part of it. Your silence is and will be perceived as agreement.

To my Christian friends, I know what your faith means to you. I work at a church. I have spoken with two of this church’s pastors about many of these issues. Please use your voices to overpower those who wrongly use the name of God to justify their hateful speech. From my perspective, if there is a war on Christianity, the ones who are perpetrating it are the ones who are claiming it exists. 

To my straight friends, do not stay silent when you hear those around you use terms that are degrading to your gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered friends and neighbors. 

My list continues to my white friends, my male friends, and even my gay friends. We all can do better and we all need to be unwilling to accept the kind of hatred that causes so many of our uniquely American tragedies. 

This is not political correctness. This is ordinary politeness. This is caring This is being a good neighbor, a good friend, and a responsible American.

To all those reading this blog, and those that aren't: Be safe. Share love. Be better than you were the day before.