Seven years ago I got a call that I never expected to get. A call that made me stop in my tracks. A call that even after seven years I can’t seem to process. It was a call from my mom, informing me that the mother of my step brother and sisters had been shot and killed.
The shooting didn’t occur in a bad neighborhood or an area rocked with violence. It occurred in a tree-lined, quiet street in the suburbs of St. Louis. A street filled with kids jumping into piles of leaves, going about their days without fear and their nights unafraid of the dark. While my step-sister was on the phone with her mother on her way home, two teenagers were making their way through the neighborhood robbing the homes they were able to enter. When she arrived and stepped through the doors of her kitchen she encountered these two kids robbing her home. Stunned and surprised she shouted at them. Her shouts would be the last words she would speak, and the last words my step-sister would hear from her mother.
Although she was not my mother, to me she was family. I knew her well and saw her often. She was strong and confident woman. Sadly her life ended after simply walking into a room at the wrong time.
Six and a half years after her death my husband and I found ourselves kidless for a night. My in-laws had asked to keep our son over for a sleep-over and there we were, in our mid-thirties, out to dinner, with no responsibilities to go home for the evening. It didn’t take long for us to make a plan. We may be older, married, with a kid, but we still have a Pulse. Living in St. Augustine, Florida there aren’t any gay nightclub options for us. We can either head into Jacksonville or down to Orlando. We contemplated the longer drive to Orlando but in the end went with the closer to home option and headed to the Metro in Jacksonville. At 2am there I was, having a drink while I watched my husband dance the night away as if he were 20 with no worries. I was tired and ready to go home, but who could pull him away from the joys of dancing. At that exact moment 2 hours down the highway, at Pulse Nightclub, it was a different story. At 2:30am we ventured home, at Pulse they did not.
Upon receiving news of the shooting I again stopped in my tracks. The range of emotions fell upon me. What if we had chosen that nightclub? All I could think about was our son. He would’ve been left an orphan. At 3 would he grow up to remember us? Would he remember me singing to him every night, or recall our walks to the park, and what about our baseball games in the backyard?
I don’t expect gun sales to stop. I don’t expect the NRA to wake up one day and say let’s find a new source of revenue streams, let’s close up shop and bake cupcakes instead. But I do want change. Those on the proponents side of Gun Control are adamantly opposed to illegals entering our country. They don’t think they should be granted a drivers license, nor allowed to enter college, however, they have no problem selling a gun to anyone who walks into a gun show. It’s simple common-sense. If we put limits on obtaining a drivers license, limits on who can get married, limits on who can adopt a child – why aren’t we limited on who can bear arms?
I came out once already, but I don’t mind coming out again. This time I’m Coming Out Against Gun Violence. I’m asking you to join me. We are loud, and we are proud and for all those lives lost at Pulse we owe it to them. Somewhere they are still dancing, let’s come together to make a difference so they will never stop.
By Scott Tayloe, Come Out Against Gun Violence Founder and Board Member