As is often the case these days, you see it first on Twitter. A single tweet, posted by someone – you’ll forget who – early Sunday morning.
“Terrible news from Orlando.”
Frustratingly oblique, and so you thumb a cursor into the search field and type the word “Orlando” and seconds later you find out what they meant. Shots fired. People killed. Hostages taken. You’re still in bed, but you get up and go about your day, every so often returning to Twitter or Google or whichever rolling news outlet you rely on for updates.
And it just keeps getting worse.
Twenty dead. Thirty. Forty. Fifty. Numbers that become harder to grasp the higher they get. Confusion gives way to sadness. Sadness calcifies into anger. And this is just the beginning, because the events of June 12th, 2016, are still unfolding, the facts are still becoming known.
Work commitments mean it’s been a quiet few months here on the Iris Blog, and typically we like to keep things film-focused and “on topic”, but today it felt like something had to be written. Not an opinion, because we’ll all hear plenty of those, and this isn’t an official statement from the Iris Team, of which I’m proud to be just one small part. It’s a message of sympathy, condolence and solidarity to those affected by yesterday’s atrocity, and to all those who find themselves the victims of violent persecution around the world.
Yesterday was a reminder that the battle for LGBT+ people’s right to exist doesn’t end in the law courts or in the corridors of power. It’s a battle of ideas, of difficult and complex discussions that need to happen. In their own small way, films allow us to approach those ideas and discussions in peace, they allow us to challenge and be challenged, and that’s what makes a festival like Iris (or, indeed, any of our partner festivals around the globe) so important. It’s naive to think they’ll change the world single-handedly, but each story told is surely a step in the right direction.
So here’s to stories, peace, love and happiness. xx