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

 

How To Be a Good Ally

Allies are great.

They help us fight for equality and often offer love and support as friends, family members, and significant others. Where do you start? Here’s how I think you can be a good ally:

  1. Listen – Listen to those in the LGBTQ+ community and don’t talk over us. Wait for your time to talk and recognize when your opinion isn’t needed. Let people tell you what they need, instead of assuming. Listen to how your friend/partner/family member feels and what they need from you. An open mind and listening ears goes a long way, especially when someone is trying to figure things out or has just come out.
  2. Educate- Educated yourself about the community, all of the community. Learn different sexualities, genders, and romantic identities. Learn about LGBTQ+ issues and stay up to date on news that involves the community. Try to educate others, especially when other people are saying bigoted things or using slurs.
  3.  Love- Everyone just wants to be loved. Respond to the LGBTQ+ people in your life with love even when you don’t understand what they’re going through. There’s no way you’ll be able to understand it all, but listening to them and loving them will make a huge difference.
  4.  Vote- Voting is one of the biggest ways, in my opinion, that you can help our community. Vote against discriminatory laws, and vote for people who are going to bring about positive change. Do not stand idly by while bigoted people try to attack our community, especially right now.
  5. Respect- Respect everyone’s identity. Use the correct pronouns and preferred name for everyone you meet. Respect that someone may not be open to talking about their sexuality or gender, or being queer in general.

 

What did I miss? How can someone be a good ally to you?

 

Self-Expression After Coming Out

A few months ago BuzzFeed released a video on how people’s style changed after coming out, and they had a group of people dress like their closeted selves for a day. Honestly I didn’t think other people had thought this through as much as I had.

Before I came out, and before I accepted my sexuality I was overtly feminine. I worse lots of skirts, dresses, jewelry, heavy makeup (ugh someone should had told me I looked terrible), and I had long hair. I never had a girly style before but I felt more pressure as I got older to trade in the messy bun and basketball shorts, for long curled hair and a mini-skirt. A lot of it was sub-conscious and I didn’t really realize what I was doing until years later.

I would see things I wanted to wear, but thought “no that’s too masculine.” In reality it wasn’t masculine at all, it just wasn’t nauseatingly feminine like I had made myself used to. After coming out something just switched. I wore whatever I wanted, which was usually still leaning towards feminine, but I felt more comfortable. I normally wear jeans, a shirt, and vans or clarks. So does sexuality affect style?

I would say yes and no. In some instances once people are comfortable with themselves and come out, then they feel they can dress how they’ve always wanted to. Like any culture or community there is a specific style that a lot of people follow. Some stereotypes are here for a reason, I mean a lot of lesbians do wear flannel, like a lot. I don’t think it’s bad thing though, unless you feel like you have to change the way you dress in order to be taken seriously or fit in.

My self-expression changed when I became comfortable with myself, and I think that’s true for a lot of people. When you spend months, years, or even decades being uncomfortable the second you stop feeling even a tiny percentage of that awkwardness, you never want to go back.

Did your style or general self-expression change after coming out?

What changed?