By Cedric Lundy

We were on our way to lunch. I was excited to introduce two of my co-workers to one of my favorite burger joints in town, as both of them were still relatively new to Charlotte. It was almost 15 minutes into the drive and we had nearly reached our destination when one of them asked me the question.

I don’t think I realized how desperate I was for someone to ask me that question until he asked. 

It felt like being able to breathe or exhale after weeks and months of feeling like I was suffocating. That feeling of suffocation only increased as the days and weeks went by and none of my friends inquired about how I was doing. It was as though everyone had decided not to talk to me about it or bring it up. Whether they felt like they had nothing to offer or couldn’t really understand didn’t matter, I just needed someone to ask. I needed someone to recognize that these things affected me quite differently than it did them. Especially given that I rub shoulders and do life with a majority of people who wouldn’t be affected in the same way.

“I’ve been meaning to ask you, and sorry I haven’t thought to ask you before now, but how are you doing with everything that has happened over the last few months?”

He didn’t need to be more specific. I knew exactly what he was talking about.

He was was talking about Eric Garner, John Crawford III, Michael Brown, and Tamir Rice.

It meant the world to me that one of my white friends had the awareness to recognize that I might be hurting as a black male seeing (three are captured on video) all these unarmed black men killed by police officers, none of whom stood trial, in a very short window of time. It’s never easy being a minority, but those were some months where I’ve never felt so isolated as a black man living in a white world.

I was reminded of that moment and those feelings in the wake and aftermath of the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando. 

Hard to believe that it has now been almost a month since the shooting. I’m not gay, so I can only guess what those who are might be feeling in the aftermath of this tragedy. I can imagine many in the LGBT community might still be struggling with feelings similar to those I was struggling with before my friends had the courage to ask me how I was doing. That feeling of suffocating. That feeling of being more alone than you usually are in some sense of your identity.

But what’s the point in guessing when you can ask?

If you have friends, family members, or co-workers who identify as LGBT, please, ask them how they are doing. Sure, they may have other LGBT friends they can talk to. But please believe me when I say it means so much when others for whom these things don’t hit quite as hard, when others who can’t quite relate, intentionally seek to relay their concern.

In a day and age when there is so much discussion about whether or not the church approves of the LGBT “lifestyle,” how meaningful would it be to show we approve of the fact that they have feelings, and that they might just be hurting as a result of this event more than we comprehend if we never ask?