Saturday night had given way to Sunday morning and the club was packed. It was Latin night, and the music was loud and the bodies were feeling it: a sense of belonging, the joy in one another. Then it began. By daybreak the mass shooting at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando would be reported as the deadliest act of violence against LGBT people in the whole, bloody history of the United States.
Over fifty wounded.
Most of them Latinx.
Queer people do not have often have the luxury of safety. The things I imagine other people take for granted, like walking down the street or taking the subway, can feel scary if someone around can read the queerness of your body. For this reason, we create makeshift spaces for ourselves when we can, where we can. In my own life, I have found safety and community on so many dance floors.
Sometimes people challenge me on that point. What kind of community can you find among strangers? What kind of safety do you find in the dark? I remind them that the founding mothers of the gay rights movement threw the first brick fifty years ago at Stonewall. Queer people and dancefloors have a cozy history.
I woke up to news of Pulse the day I was set to attend my first Pride parade. If Pulse had been an act of terror, I thought, then marching in the parade would be an act of defiance, and so I did.
It wasn’t until the next day that the crying spells began. The first happened as I got ready for work. The next one happened on my bike ride there, and they continued through the weeks that followed. There would also be waves of numbness and waves of anger, fearing the worst around every corner.
I’m not sure this kind of grief goes away, but I think it helps to name it, to reflect, and to remember. It is helpful to lean on your community and to hold space for others.
In that spirit, let us remember those who lost their lives that night:
Stanley Almodovar III, Amanda Alvear, Oscar A. Aracena-Montero, Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, Alejandro Barrios Martinez, Martin Benitez Torres, Antonio D. Brown, Darryl R. Burt II, Jonathan A. Camuy Vega, Angel L. Candelario-Padro, Simon A. Carrillo Fernandez, Juan Chevez-Martinez, Luis D. Conde, Cory J. Connell, Tevin E. Crosby, Franky J. Dejesus Velazquez, Deonka D. Drayton, Mercedez M. Flores, Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, Juan R. Guerrero, Paul T. Henry, Frank Hernandez, Miguel A. Honorato, Javier Jorge-Reyes, Jason B. Josaphat, Eddie J. Justice, Anthony L. Laureano Disla, Christopher A. Leinonen, Brenda L. Marquez McCool, Jean C. Mendez Perez, Akyra Monet Murray, Kimberly Morris, Jean C. Nieves Rodriguez, Luis O. Ocasio-Capo, Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez, Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, Joel Rayon Paniagua, Enrique L. Rios Jr., Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan, Christopher J. Sanfeliz, Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, Edward Sotomayor Jr., Shane E. Tomlinson, Leroy Valentin Fernandez, Luis S. Vielma, Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, Jerald A. Wright
Author: Cesar Mantilla, MSW