One Year Later: Pulse Orlando

June 12, 2016 49 people died and 53+ were wounded in a hate crime committed at Pulse Night Club in Orlando, Florida.

 

I remember waking up Sunday morning and seeing the news, unaware of the magnitude of the situation. I read some tweets and a short article, but continued to get ready for church as I always did on Sunday. It wasn’t until later that day after reading more online news articles and watching the news that I began to understand the atrocity that had taken place.

This was the first time that it became clear to me that there are people out there who want me dead because of my sexuality. It’s a terrifying thought that shakes me to my core. In a club where people were celebrating Latin Night and just wanted to dance, their lives were taken. “Gay Clubs” are supposed to be a place of refuge for those in the LGBTQ+ community, but this safe space was shattered and turned into the deadliest mass shooting in US history.

My heart breaks for the friends and families of those who were victims that day. With the oldest victims being in their early forties, all of these people were taken way too young.

  • Stanley Almodovar III, age 23
  • Amanda Alvear, 25
  • Oscar A. Aracena-Montero, 26
  • Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33
  • Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21
  • Martin Benitez Torres, 33
  • Antonio D. Brown, 30
  • Darryl R. Burt II, 29
  • Jonathan A. Camuy Vega, 24
  • Angel L. Candelario-Padro, 28
  • Simon A. Carrillo Fernandez, 31
  • Juan Chevez-Martinez, 25
  • Luis D. Conde, 39
  • Cory J. Connell, 21
  • Tevin E. Crosby, 25
  • Franky J. Dejesus Velazquez, 50
  • Deonka D. Drayton, 32
  • Mercedez M. Flores, 26
  • Juan R. Guerrero, 22
  • Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22
  • Paul T. Henry, 41
  • Frank Hernandez, 27
  • Miguel A. Honorato, 30
  • Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40
  • Jason B. Josaphat, 19
  • Eddie J. Justice, 30
  • Anthony L. Laureano Disla, 25
  • Christopher A. Leinonen, 32
  • Brenda L. Marquez McCool, 49
  • Jean C. Mendez Perez, 35
  • Akyra Monet Murray, 18
  • Kimberly Morris, 37
  • Jean C. Nieves Rodriguez, 27
  • Luis O. Ocasio-Capo, 20
  • Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez, 25
  • Eric I. Ortiz-Rivera, 36
  • Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32
  • Enrique L. Rios Jr., 25
  • Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37
  • Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan, 24
  • Christopher J. Sanfeliz, 24
  • Xavier E. Serrano Rosado, 35
  • Gilberto R. Silva Menendez, 25
  • Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34
  • Shane E. Tomlinson, 33
  • Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25
  • Luis S. Vielma, 22
  • Luis D. Wilson-Leon, 37
  • Jerald A. Wright, 31

I think the fact that the deadliest mass shooting in US history, and the deadliest terrorist attack since 9/11 was committed against the LGBTQ+ community, specifically queer poc speaks volumes. Marriage equality did not end homophobia, it is alive and well across our whole nation. This is the result of hate, this is the result of prejudice, this is the result homophobia, this is the result of racism. We cannot continue to let any hate in the slightest form we tolerated, because 49 people are dead. 49 people who wanted to have a good time lost their lives, and their families have to continue to live with the pain of them being gone forever.

If you have any queer friends hug them, send them a text, call them, let them know you love and support them. Today is going to be a very hard day for many people in the LGBTQ+ community and I’m sure any love and support would be appreciated. The queer community has always been incredibly resilient and will continue to carry on even in the face of tragedy.

Lots of Love,

Alyssa

 

The Truth About Texas

Texas is the butt of many jokes, specifically about how conservative it is.

While it may be a red state, Texas isn’t always the hell it’s been made out to be.

I’ve lived half my life in South Texas – San Antonio, and the other half in North Texas – Dallas. I’ve always lived in the suburbs so my experience stems from that. Cities like Dallas, Austin, and Houston are all incredibly progressive and you’ll find more democrats than republicans there. San Antonio is a little different. There’s a heavy catholic influence so people tend to lean more conservative, but there re still more progressive people in the city than other places in Texas.

The high school I went to was predominately white, but also had a sizable asian population. While there was the occasional super republican kid who spit out all the bigoted phases they heard at home, most people were pretty chill. I came out to a few of my friends at the time, and while they were shocked, it wasn’t a big deal. There were LGBTQ+ kids who were out and dating and most people didn’t care or at least didn’t care enough to say anything.

You will see protesters outside planned parenthood or standing on an overpass with their open carried guns, but those kind of people are everywhere. Even in the most liberal areas in the US there are still conservative people. I think most people would be surprised how many progressive and moderate people live here.

My narrative may be different from someone who grew up in a small town. The small town conservative mentality reaches much farther than the South though. Being LGBTQ+ in Texas isn’t always the death sentence its made out to be. While I would never want to erase the struggles of people who have experienced abuse for being LGBT in Texas, I think it’s important for people to know that isn’t everyones narrative. There are happy LGBTQ+ people who live in the South and people who come from religious families who have positive coming out stories.

Do I daydream about living in San Fransisco where most people identify with being LGBTQIA+in some way or another? Yes of course, but for now i’m pretty happy right where I am. I want to see the Texas legislature be reformed and more sane people go into power. These past few weeks a lot of bigoted laws have been put into place, and that has to change. I don’t think running to leave Texas the first chance I get is going to help anyone, and for now I want to stick around and do my part to make Texas a place where everyone is respected and receives the equity they deserve.

Lots of Love,

Alyssa

When We Rise

When We Rise is a four part mini-series documenting the journey of LGBTQIA+ activists Cleve Jones, Roma Guy, Ken Jones, and Cecilia Chung who were leaders in the civil right’s movement which later turned into the Gay right’s movement.

As someone who is a part of then LGBTQ+ community and is too young to have been alive during the time of many of these historical events I believe it’s very important to educate myself on Queer History and culture. We don’t learn these things in school and they definitely aren’t in our textbooks. Even the biggest events like the Stonewall Riots were never spoken of in any classroom I’ve been in. Our textbooks are white-washed and filled with the the accounts of straight white men, so it’s up to us as individuals to learn about the history that the rest of society actively tries to erase.

When We Rise covers Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, the AIDS epidemic, police relations with the queers community, and marriage equality. While none of this was news to me, it was quite heart wrenching to see it played out. I think ABC did a good job showing just how brutal the world was to the LGBTQ+ community during the 1970’s. One critique I have of the series is it is mainly based in New York and San Francisco, which is where the movement took place so it makes sense, but this doesn’t show how much more danger people were in when living in different areas in America.

I thought one thing they did really well was covering the AIDS epidemic. It was incredibly informative and if you had never been told about the governments response ( well lack there of ) then this would be very eye opening. They showed the resilience of the community and how they banned together during this difficult time. We lost nearly an entire generation of queer men and a lot of people don’t realize that.

I would have liked to see LGBTQ+ people play these roles and I’m not sure why the casting directors chose not to cast queer people for the majority of the roles. I looked up pictures of many of the real people in this series to see if they chose actors who looked like them, but that really wasn’t the case. They were great actors and did a good job, but I think queer people should play queer roles in films and on TV.

Overall despite a few things I would change, this was an amazing series and couldn’t have come at a better time. It was raw and didn’t hold back or sugar coat any situation. When We Rise showed the revolution and resilience of the community like nothing I’ve ever seen before. I think everyone, gay or straight, should watch this mini-series and learn about this piece of history that we often don’t shed a light on. We are still living the “LGBT civil rights movement” with things like the bathroom bill in North Carolina being passed, revoking the protection of trans kids in public schools, and the laws in Texas that are being considered right now.

Did you watch When We Rise? What did you think?

Lots of Love,

Alyssa

Why do we have to fight this stuff?

The laws Obama put in place to protect transgender kids were abolished yesterday.

It makes me so sad that we have to fight for trans people to use the restroom the corresponds with their gender. These laws were made to protect trans students, and the White House sent a very clear message that they are okay with putting these students lives in danger, because they don’t support trans rights. This is beyond ridiculous.

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These are the same people who make fun of safe spaces, and this is exactly why we need safe spaces! Kids shouldn’t be forced to use the wrong bathroom at school or to go by the wrong pronouns. They shouldn’t be afraid to change in the locker room or scared they might get attacked by a classmate. Abolishing these laws tells bullies what they’re doing is acceptable. 41% of transgender people will attempt to commit suicide in their lifetime; bullying and intolerance play a huge role in that statistic. Those statistics are even higher for ethnic minorities, those in poverty, and people who don’t finish high school.

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These kids need protection and love when going through the already difficult experience of middle school and high school. Why are we letting our government out an even bigger target on their back? When I was still going to high school there was a guy I knew who was trans and had gone to elementary school with me. I only knew he was trans because the news spread like wildfire. Everything from supportive comments to transphobic slurs filled the halls. For reference I went to a HUGE school, so it seemed weird that anyone cared, but this is Texas after all. Luckily my school let him use the boys locker room and bathroom, but people weren’t always very nice and he had to deal with the gossip and being misgendered daily.

I don’t have any great advice or solution to the issue, besides telling transphobic people to get their heads out of their asses, but I don’t think that’ll help. Continuing to support organizations that fight for LGBTQ+ rights like the Trevor Project, GLSEN, Trans Lifeline, and The Human Right’s Campaign is important. If you have someone who is transgender in your life let them know how much you love and support them. If you are trans know this cis gay girl may not be able to understand your struggles, but she loves you and supports you 100%!

Lots of Love,

Alyssa

 

Texas Anti-LGBTQ+ Laws

Texas is trying to put a series of anti-LGBTQ+ laws in place that are detrimental to the queer community.

The first one is a “bathroom bill” similar to one passed in  North Carolina. We fought North Carolina, and unfortunately have yet to win that battle. These so called “bathroom bills” are absolutely ridiculous and aren’t protecting anyone. They’re transphobic and only cause more problems. How do you tell someone who presents femininely and identifies as a woman to use the men’s restroom because she was assigned male at birth? That only puts her in danger, and criminalizes her gender. It doesn’t matter if the trans person “passes” or not, they have the right to use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender.

Other legislation is being reviewed that lets teachers out students to their parents. This is so harmful! Suicide rates of LGBTQ+ are much higher than those of non-lgbt youth, and students who have unsupportive families only have an even high chance of self-harm and suicide. Many students don’t come out at home because they know it isn’t safe, but they are out as school and see it as a safe haven. Parents don’t get to know every piece of information about their children just because they are the parents. Some people are terrible parents and we should be protecting our  LGBTQ youth.

If you thought those were bad, just wait there’s more! They’re looking into making it legal to refuse service to someone based off their sexual orientation or gender identity and making it legal to refuse marriage licenses based off “religious beliefs.” That is complete and utter bullshit. You can’t break federal law because of religious beliefs. They already did this with Kim Davis and she ended up getting arrested, but with our mess of a government who knows what will happen.  I don’t believe being homophobic is a religious belief, but thats another topic for another time.

I’m hoping and praying that these things don’t pass, but I wouldn’t be surprised if at least a few of them did. Lots of celebrities are standing up against these laws, and I suspect if they pass they will pull their concerts and shows like they did in NC. South by South West is coming up and if people pull out, Texas could potentially lose millions of dollars.  Not only are these laws discriminatory and unconstitutional, but they are also bad for our economy.

Here’s a simple way you can help whether you’re a texan or not!

Go Here and Read the article

Scroll down to the bottom of my page and click on this to send an email to the Texas legislators to oppose these horrible, homophobic and transphobic laws!

Lots of Love,

Alyssa

 

What Issues are LGBTQ+ Issues?

If you would have asked me this question a year ago I would have answered,

“Trans rights, LGBTQ+ friendly healthcare, marriage equality, anti-discrimintion laws, ect.”

All those things still stand true, but the Queer community also hits so many intersections that make many more issues “LGBTQ Issues.” All queer people aren’t white, middle class, abled, male, and cis… obviously right? This means the issues that affect ethnic minorities, women, the disabled and chronically ill, religions, those in poverty and the homeless, immigration, and many more are also LGBT issues.

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The LGBT community is made up of people from different backgrounds and we should support the issues that affect everyone in our community. If someone is queer and an issue affects them and other queer people, then it’s a queer issue. You can’t say you’re an ally or fight for queer rights if you don’t fight for all queer peoples rights.

When I strongly support a cause that “doesn’t seem to affect me” in other peoples eyes I remember this is something not a lot of people get. On top of my love for my fellow human beings and wanting nothing but peace and happiness for the world, I can recognize that almost all issues affect the LGBT community. I will not sit by idly while my community is harmed, directly or indirectly.

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With all the ugliness that is going on today, it’s hard to stay up to date on everything and know how to respond. I find myself feeling overwhelmed and not knowing how I can help. All I know is doing nothing is not an option. I will continue to do everything in my power that my health allows me to do to fight for my community and others who’s voice isn’t as loud as mine.

Lots of Love,

Alyssa

 

 

There’s a Person Behind Your Politics

There is a person behind your politics,

or rather people.

Every decision you make and law you put into place affects the happiness, well-being, and prosperity of others. You can’t take the people out of politics and only think about policy, because every decision thats made affects someone else’s day to day life.

Reproductive rights, gun laws, immigration laws, LGBTQ+ rights, health care, all these things not only affect peoples happiness, but are also the difference between life and death. There is no other way to look at it in my eyes. This horrific “Muslim Ban” is tearing apart families, and will be the cause of death for many. The federal judge may have put a hold on this, but people are still being detained and treated like criminals. How can we turn our backs on our fellow human beings, cover their mouths, and let them suffer?

I’m tired of seeing white, middle class Americans having a “I got mine, but I don’t want anyone else to get there’s” mentality. Selfishness rules this country. Just take a look at the laws we put in place. We legalize weed, because people want to have the right to get high, but on other “progressive issues” the same people vote against them. People vote against marriage equality, and against reproductive rights. They want to give themselves the most rights, while restricting everyone else.

I think the problem with a lot of politicians is that they don’t think about the people they’re affecting. Immigrants and refugees are just another bullet point on a piece of paper to them. I’m happy to see so many people going out to airports to protest. Americans are riled up and angry as we should be. I will not stand behind anyone who would let another human being suffer due to their religion or ethnicity.

I believe you shouldn’t restrict others rights based off any beliefs you have. If you are anti-abortion, then don’t get an abortion, but don’t make it illegal for other people to have control over their bodies. If you’re against marriage equality, guess what, you don’t have to marry someone of the same gender, but don’t revoke the basic human right of marriage from another person.

Think about real human beings when you make decisions that will affect others lives. I want to live in a world where we treat one another with love, and compassion. I want to celebrate our different cultures, and the things that make us unique. If you’re an immigrant, practice Islam, or have family and friends in any of the countries that are now “banned” just know you are loved and wanted here.

Lots of Love,

Alyssa