By Melanie Davis, PQ Monthly
On June 12th, 2016, the city of Orlando, Florida, the LGBTQ, and the Latinx community faced an unthinkable crisis when a domestic terrorist entered Pulse Nightclub, killed 49 patrons, and left dozens injured.
The horrifying effects of the massacre were most strongly felt in Orlando’s Latino/Latinx and LGBTQ communities. The global news coverage that followed washed the identities of those lost that tragic evening, and most Queer media failed at the intersections of this tragedy by mainstreaming the coverage and adopting a savior mentality in the wake of the need of our Queer and Trans Communities of Color.
It’s been one year of mourning those lost in the largest massacre on US soil since Wounded Knee. Many of us, myself included, are still in shock.
In March of 2017 I had the opportunity to visit Pulse Night Club and pay my respects. It could be my empathic ways but I distinctly recall getting ready that evening, and it hit me. I began to imagine the steps our 49 angels took that night. I imagined Las Reginas (The Queens) applying makeup with Latina perfection, some Celia Cruz and Tinto Puentez playing in the background as the buzz of the evening started to set in…that was until till we arrived at the sight. I was pulled from my glittery thoughts as our bus arrived at Pulse Night Club. My eyes welled up as they set on a young man and his child reading inscriptions at what is now a memorial sight for our tragically fallen mariposas. The child, with a puzzled look and questions wrapped up in his eyes, looked to his elder for answers, and his elder remained speechless.
Paralyzed with one question: “How do we even begin to explain…”
I know this is a question mass media continues to ask themselves. Some Queer media is trying to build better and more genuine relationships with its growing diversity. But the answer is simple: TELL THE TRUTH.
This massacre continues to greatly affect Queer and Trans People of Color in the Latinx communities. In speaking with Ricardo J. Negron-Almodovar, director of Proyecto Somos Orlando, he and I share the same fear for those who were directly affected being swept under the rug so the mainstream Orlando community and mainstream Gay community can feel they have been healed because “they did something.”
According to Terry DeCarlo, the Executive Director at GLBT Community Center of Central Florida, “The critical need for the Latinx community now are programs and services dedicated specifically to their community.”
“These years following the tragedy must be a time of healing for our nation, but especially for victims and the families of the victims.”
In the immediate aftermath of the massacre, Hispanic Federation, through its Orlando office, joined forces with local Latino-led institutions to create Proyecto Somos Orlando as a campaign to coordinate the city’s Latino social services sector and raise awareness of the need to provide the victims and their families with high-quality, culturally-competent assistance.
These years following the tragedy must be a time of healing for our nation, but especially for victims and the families of the victims. Proyecto Somos Orlando continues to address the long-term needs for mental health services that are culturally competent and bilingual. Proyecto has enabled care to be delivered to those affected directly in the communities in which they live. Beyond emergency assistance, they have been providing case management, crisis intervention, and mental health services, among other direct needs.
Since the Presidential campaign and election, diverse communities have come under major attack. Many hold our current Administration responsible for these hateful attacks, in part because of the misogynistic, racist, xenophobic, and transphobic rhetoric they have openly shared as core values in “making our country great again.” They are pushing individuals and society to the breaking point; this is a horrific lesson living in “Grab’em by the Pussy” America.
May these angels be the guiding light of eternal love and grace:
Stanley Almodovar III, 23 years old
Amanda L. Alvear, 25 years old
Oscar A. Aracena Montero, 26 years old
Rodolfo Ayala Ayala, 33 years old
Antonio Davon Brown, 29 years old
Darryl Roman Burt II, 29 years old
Angel Candelario-Padro, 28 years old
Juan Chavez Martinez, 25 years old
Luis Daniel Conde, 39 years old
Cory James Connell, 21 years old
Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25 years old
Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32 years old
Simón Adrian Carrillo Fernández, 31 years old
Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25 years old
Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26 years old
Peter Ommy Gonzalez Cruz, 22 years old
Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22 years old
Paul Terrell Henry, 41 years old
Frank Hernandez, 27 years old
Miguel Angel Honorato, 30 years old
Javier Jorge Reyes, 40 years old
Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19 years old
Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30 years old
Anthony Luis Laureano Disla, 25 years old
Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32 years old
Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21 years old
Brenda Marquez McCool, 49 years old
Gilberto R. Silva Menendez, 25 years old
Kimberly Jean Morris, 37 years old
Akyra Monet Murray, 18 years old
Luis Omar Ocasio Capo, 20 years old
Geraldo A. Ortiz Jimenez, 25 years old
Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36 years old
Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32 years old
Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35 years old
Enrique L. Rios, Jr., 25 years old
Jean Carlos Nieves Rodríguez, 27 years old
Xavier Emmanuel Serrano-Rosado, 35 years old
Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz, 24 years old
Yilmary Rodríguez Solivan, 24 years old
Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34 years old
Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33 years old
Martin Benitez Torres, 33 years old
Jonathan A. Camuy Vega, 24 years old
Juan Pablo Rivera Velázquez, 37 years old
Luis Sergio Vielma, 22 years old
Franky Jimmy DeJesus Velázquez, 50 years old
Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37 years old
Jerald Arthur Wright, 31 years old
…Love Is Love Is Love Is Love Is Love Is Love Is Love Is Love Is Love Is Love Is Love Is Love Is Love Is Love Is Love Is Love Is Love Is Love Is Love Is Love Is Love Is Love Is Love Is Love Is Love Is Love Is Love Is Love Is Love Is Love Is Love Is Love Is Love Is Love Is Love Is Love Is Love Is Love Is Love Is Love Is Love Is Love Is Love Is Love Is Love Is Love Is Love Is Love Is Love Is Love Is Love Is Love Is Love Is Love Is Love Is Love Is
May we never forget!