There will be no tags on this post, because I do not believe in capitalising on tragedy. I do not believe that I have anything to say that has not been said, nor is it my place to say. But there are words – there are always words – for my thoughts and feelings.
Manchester is a glorious city; it’s like a second home to me. It was a constant of my childhood almost moreso than Leicester where my parents live, because every summer we would live there for my mum’s work. I went to shops, museums, gigs… Manchester is where I learned to be alone. A few years later, it’s where I learned to have a good time, as my friends and I trekked up to the gay district for more gigs, or I went to theatre shows with my folks (and had more civilised drinks). Later, my brother-from-another-mother moved there for university, and still lives there – I have spent four years not visiting him enough. In Manchester, people talk like me. They’re proud of their music, their history, their working classness. I love the city.
I have all of Ariana Grande’s albums. I wouldn’t let myself attend the Dangerous Woman tour because of my commitments, but I wanted to so much. I follow her on insta, my boyfriend loves to make fun of me for liking her. I like her music, and I respect her as a person – she is vegan, feminist, has attitude, and is kind.
She is my age.
As I listened to Ariana on my way to work this morning, having woken up to a notification that my brother had ‘marked himself safe in the Manchester explosions’, I was trying to digest my feelings.
These are people just like me. But that doesn’t make it worse, it just makes it more obvious to me. We, as a nation, have killed children as young and younger than attended that concert in Syria; in Iraq, we have systematically killed doctors and politicians and office workers just like the ones that were there last night, and their lives are not worth less. It is my firm belief that pacifism is the only way to stop these deaths, that we as people in a position of power need to stop abusing that power in brutal ways, and being surprised when people fight back in this war that we declared but do not understand.
I cannot condone this. I cannot condone anybody looking at a good time, at children or young people, at people – people just like myself – who meant no harm, and saw a violent act. A point-score. Revenge. A way to attract a beautiful celebrity’s attention? We don’t know what happened, and yet we are already condemning the ideology of the attack.
I cannot condone what the media will do to an already marginalised group when we find out who committed this act. Make no mistake, it will be a marginalised group: their ethnicity, religion, mental health status or citizenship will be punished by the press, regardless of whose action it was, and we will all mourn, and condemn, and forget, collectively. We will gripe when there is increased security at museums or schools or concerts. We will not address the problems that caused this terrible, terrible act. We will not acknowledge what we as a group have done wrong – yet individuals like Grande and the parents of the dead and injured will blame themselves forever.
The final word, though, should be ones for the fans at the concert. Ones that will heal, ones that will be an anthem, ones that the young dead would have approved of and enjoyed: we’re gonna be alright. I love you, my thoughts are with you. But for the grace of god it could have been me along with you.