In the immediate aftermath of the Pulse Nightclub shooting in which 49 Latinx & Black folk lost their lives and another 53 were injured, I had no words to convey my heartbreak and rage. I had no words to convey the rawness of these energetic wounds that I and other QTIPOC are feeling. I still don’t. By the time this blog post goes live at the end of June, I probably still won’t. What happened is an unimaginable horror & I’m just not that eloquent.
I could talk about the importance of queer bars: the place where we find sanctuary, where we feel free to express all of our selves. I could also talk about the importance of nights or bars specifically for queer POC since a lot of gay clubs are majority white and therefore include more than a dash of the manifestations of White Supremacy so aren’t really that much safer for queer POC than any other bar. I could talk about how hard it must be, how traumatic it must feel to so viscerally have that sense of safety taken away from you.
I could talk about the way that the country & world has united around this tragedy is a double-edged sword. The genuine outpourings of support worldwide have been a balm. To feel queers being claimed as “ours” across the country & the world by those who legitimately feel sorrow at this massacre is heartwarming. Yet de-centering the race/ethnicity & sexual preference/orientation of the victims is a form of erasure. Ignoring that queer & trans POC are more likely to be victims of violence allows that violence to continue.
Dear White or Straight Folk: Love us & treat us with humanity & dignity while we’re alive & unharmed please.
I could talk about the need to erase the history of US violence against people of color. This was not the “worse mass shooting in the history of the US” & saying so erases the history of Black People & Indigenous People. This massacre is connected to Wounded Knee, connected to the East St Louis Massacre, connected to all of the violent racist underpinnings of this country’s very creation & it’s continued maintenance of White Supremacy.
I could talk about the increased hardship of victims—living or dead—who have been outed without their consent. I could talk about the increased hardship of undocumented victims—living—or dead. These hardships exist due to the racist & queerhating basis of America’s immigration policies.
I could talk about the hypocrisy of elected officials offering “thoughts & prayers” while lining their pockets with NRA blood money & doing nothing to prevent such tragedies from occuring.
I could talk about how American society creates self-hatred in so many LGBTQ folx & that American society leaves many cismen without the tools to handle confusion or self-hatred in a way that doesn’t harm others.
I could talk about how those who care nothing for us use this tragedy to increase islamophobia, xenophobia & racism.
Instead I want to talk about self-love & self-care & to wonder with you: where do we go from here? How do we reclaim our sense of safety as Queer & Trans Latinx & Black Folx?
What did you do in the days that followed to take care of yourself? What are you doing now? Are you feeling isolated? Do you have a community to mourn with? Do you have one person you can show your authentic feelings to? Did you go to your local Pride celebrations or alternatives? Will this change how out you are in the world?
In the days that followed, I called up my QPOC posse individually & told them I loved them. I let myself rage on social media. I found comfort in the outpourings of other QTIPOC & allied folk. I let myself veg out & reread MCU slash fic faves; play HO online games, and stay in my house. I also hugged my QPOC peeps extra hard when we crossed paths.
Be gentle with yourself, my loves. Don’t deny what you are feeling. Don’t try to hurry yourself through your feelings. Let your grief move at it’s own pace. Acknowledge any fear you have. Don’t let yourself shut down in your rage & sorrow. Breathe. Feel. Dance. Love.
Here are some online resources for self-care during this time.
Spaces and Resources for Queer and Trans People of Color to Grieve, Process, and Heal after the Orlando Pulse Shooting
(scroll past the list of events)