|New Orleans firefighters in 1973 assisting a patron of the UpStairs Lounge, a gay bar that had been set on fire. Thirty-two people died in the attack. AP Photo via The New York Times, June 13 2016|
We skipped Pride to pack
for our annual Maine trip.
We left about 7AM and
on the on-ramp to I-94
we first heard:
at least 20 dead and 42 injured,
another shooting, Orlando,
a nightclub. This will be
our 27th trip to Ogunquit.
Our first was 31 years ago.
We've never been there with
the right to be married. We
stopped for lunch just past 1 o'clock
at a Panera east of Cleveland.
I walked our dogs. My partner
went to get food. He returned
with 50 dead and 53 injured, and
at a gay bar. I google news from my iPhone--
the largest mass shooting in US history.
I also know it's the largest mass killing
of LGBT people in US history because
only five years ago I learned of the story
of Upstairs Lounge arson in New Orleans
during Pride month 43 years ago. It took
16 minutes to extinguish the fire and 32
of our lives. I turned to Facebook feeling
my stolen youth raw and inflamed
again. I get reminded of Wounded Knee.
The biggest depends on how and who
defines what. The army, with the
semi-automatic weapons of 1890,
massacred at least 150, maybe 300
people. I'll be 60 in three months.
It's near 4, and we're at a toll booth
near the outskirts of Buffalo.
James M. Croteau lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan with his partner of 31 years, Darryl, and their two Labrador retrievers. Jim grew up gay and Catholic in the U.S. south in the 60s and 70s and his writing often reflects that experience. His poems have appeared in TheNewVerse.News, Right Hand Pointing, Queer South: LGBTQ Writers on the American South and Assaracus: A Journal of Gay Poetry among others. His first chapbook will be published by Redbird Chapbooks in 2016.