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

 

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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

 

 

I Can’t Be a Drug Addict: Chronically Misunderstood

I have terrible veins.

They’re deep, tiny, and they roll.

On this particular occasion when I was getting my blood drawn the phlebotomist was terrible at her job. She stuck me four times, didn’t cover up the pokes afterward, and instead of cleaning up the blood she just made a bigger mess by wiping it all over my arm. The biggest no-no she did was stick me with the same needle twice. I watched her as she used the same needle, but for some reason I couldn’t get my mouth to protest.

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On her fourth try she looked up at me, grins, and says “you have terrible veins, you could never be a drug addict.” I just stared back at her in complete shock, while she looks at me with the same big grin. Who says that? Yeah it’s funny, but what an odd thing to say. Maybe she was trying to lighten the situation since she was doing such a horrible job? That’s all I can think of. I’m still confused why that would be the first thing she thought of. Was she a drug addict? If so, it’s not my place to judge it just seems like an odd train of thought.

Are you a hard stick? Has anyone ever said something really odd to you while drawing your blood? I feel like I meet a lot of weird people, but maybe I just remember them more than other people. Let’s just file this one under a funny experience.

Lots of Love (and no drugs?),

Alyssa

 

 

Attack

Sometimes I write poetry when I’m feeling overwhelmed and I decided to share some today. I really like reading other peoples poetry, so I hope you enjoy mine.

 

Attack

I am tired
Tired of pain
Tired of “cures”
Tired of being a “head scratcher”

No amount of water or exercise is going to cure me
and in five years do you honestly believe i haven’t tried?

I don’t want to be hesitant on good days
I don’t want to question when my next flare will be
I don’t want to live my life in fear

I’m more scared of the future than excited
I just want to go to sleep
Because my nightmare goes on while I’m awake

But then some days it isn’t bad
Some weeks it isn’t bad
Some months it isn’t that bad

I crawl out of my dark hole to see the sun
I think it’s over
But the beast has other plans

She comes back with a vengeance
Making up for lost time
Putting me in my place

How dare i believe i could live a normal life?
That’s too much to ask for

But then she takes her hand from my throat once again
Giving me hope that she’ll leave me be
But i know her games

I see her lurking in the corners
I see her darkness underneath the cracks
She’s still her, just waiting to attack

The Unknowns of Being Queer

Being a young queer person, there area lot of things I can’t just count on.

I don’t know if I’ll be legally allowed to get married when the time comes.

I don’t know if I’ll be able to adopt kids if I decide I want them.

I don’t know if I’ll be able to afford an IUI or IVF cycle if me or my wife decided we wanted to carry.

We may have these right’s now, but they could be taken away in a instant.

It’s scary to know that basic human right’s can be taken away from you at any moment. The new government that is going into action soon, and it scares the shit out of me. Knowing there have been thousands of gay couples before me that didn’t have these rights and lived happy lives, makes me feel somewhat better, but it’s hard to imagine having them taken away.

My whole life society has taught me I should want to get married, and have kids. For a woman those are supposed to be the most important things, but when those things can be taken away, it’s hard to let yourself desire those things. Getting married and having kids is something I’ve always wanted; Long before I came out, and now even more after.

Thinking about the future and having a wife and kids, makes me so excited. I want to go on vacations, and make breakfast on a Saturday for my family. The legality of certain aspects of that could make obtaining those things difficult, but not impossible. I try my best not to worry too much about those things when nothing bad has yet to happen. Worrying isn’t going to make the situation any better, but it’s not an easy thing to stop doing.

Living in a conservative red state can also be difficult. How are you supposed to find someone to date, when everyone around you seems straight and against your sexuality? Of course their are other LGBTQ+ people in my area, they just aren’t always easy to find. The threat of violence against you is real. I would be very hesitant to show any kind of PDA in public in some areas in Texas. Sometimes safety is more important than happiness.

Taking action and fighting for not only my right’s, but also others is the only thing I can do right now. Trump may be hiring what seems like strictly only homophobic people, but the LGBTQ+ community is resilient. All we can do is fight and make it known that oppression is not okay.

Lots of Love,

Alyssa

The Pain Olympics

One thing I’ve noticed since I got sick is both abled and chronically ill people like to “one up” each other when it comes to health struggles. This needs to stop.

There will always be someone in a worse situation, in more pain, and for much longer than you. Telling others who are struggling ” you’re new to this, I’ve done it for X amount of years,” or “well I’ve been in the hospital X amount of times,” isn’t helpful at all. It won’t make your situation better and it won’t make the other persons situation any easier.

We should be sharing our experiences, and tips in such a way that we are offering up help to others, instead of telling them off because they’ve been sick for less time than you. Don’t invalidate others struggles, because you think you’ve had it worse. While most chronically ill people can relate in some way to one another, you can never fully know someone else’s experience. It’s okay for something to be easy for one chronically ill person and really hard for another. We’re all different, and our experiences are going to be different.

At times I find myself thinking, “If only I had _ disease/syndrome/illness then I would have a straight forward treatment plan and know what to do.” After thinking that I try to remind myself that I will never know what it’s like to deal with a medical issue that I don’t have and can’t understand the hardships of it.

At times I am exhausted and I do not want to fight anymore. It can be comforting to know others have gone through the same thing as you, and are further along in their journey, but it can be frustrating when they people act like you have it easy because you’ve been sick for a shorter amount of time than them. I didn’t choose when I got sick, or what I have, and neither did you or anyone else.

If you became ill as an adult, then you will never understand how hard it is to be a teenager and be sick. My childhood ended abruptly when I got sick at the age of twelve. My whole world stopped. Now I’m seventeen, dropped out of high school, I don’t have friends and I stay home all day. I have not had a single piece of a “normal” teenage life. I know there are many other chronically ill teenagers, but when you don’t know any it can be difficult.

On the flip side I can’t understand what it is like to be an adult and be chronically ill. I don’t know what it’s like to try to raise kids, get married, and keep a job while battling your illnesses. I have no idea what it’s like to have to stop working or go on disability. I’m afraid that in the years to come I will learn these things, but for now they aren’t part of my reality.

Chronic illness can be detrimental to our mental health, and tearing others down will only make it worse. I’ve seen so much empathy, and love for one another in the “spoonie community” and I hope to see more of it. Let’s lift each other up, and help one another heal!

Lots of Love,

Alyssa