LGBT Latinos Count The Cost of The Orlando Massacre
The vast majority of the victims of the LGBT Pulse club massacre were Latino and Hispanic. Richard Blanco, the first openly gay Inaugural Poet, and other LGBT Latinos talking here its impact–and what being LGBT and Latino means.”>
Before I speak to Herb Sosa, the President of Unity Coalition, which advocates for LGBT Latinos/ Hispanics in Florida, Sosa himself has been speaking to a friend who escaped from the LGBT Pulse nightclub in Orlando, whereOmar Mateenshot and killed 49 people around him.
Every one of my friends their responses to me asking how he was or whatever was one word, tells Sosa. People are affected physically and emotionally. There are so many layers, like survivors guilt: why did I survive, and the person next to me die? Should I have done more? Did I wimp out by not doing more? These are very real feelings.
As I write this, the funerals of the people who diedhave begun, accompanied by many wrenching pictures of distraught relatives and friends.
Most were Latino and Hispanic. It was Pulses Latino night. “Its a horrible situation, tells Sosa. This has been a huge hit for the Latino and Hispanic communities.” It was reported that 90 per cent of the victims were Latino/ Hispanic, with 23 of the victims from Puerto Rico, specifically.
Richard Blanco, the first openly lesbian( and Latino, and immigrant, and youngest) Inaugural Poet, told the Daily Beast he was writing a poem inspired by the nasty events of last week.
Blancosaid he was feeling the misfortune keenly, “not only in terms of my ethnicity and connection to the Latino gay population but also because it’s Orlando. I grew up in Miami. So its home. There’s a doubled layer of community when it comes to being Latino and homosexual, a doubled sense of home and coming home.
“Theres a familiarity not only in terms of are subordinate to LGBT community, but also a Latino community–it’s an idea of cultural sexuality. We’re very tied to our community: the two are intimately related.
“I believe I may have even been to Pulse. Surely when I insure the faces and names of the victims induces me think of the unique challenges facing LGBT Latinos. You go to a Latin night at Pulse as a style of carrying your own culture as an LGBT person. You can’t really do that in other decideds where you’re culturally stifled at times.”
“Pulse was a club that entailed a lot to a lot of people, ” says Hector Constanzo of the Orlando Youth Alliance. “Its a place where everyone could forget their difficulties and be themselves. It was the first place where my cousin and I saw two guys dance together, two guys kissing.
“It was a place where I could be with my lesbian family. It was an astounding feeling to be there, and its so sad that its taken 49 people to die for people to understand something about what LGBT people deal with on a regular basis.
“People need to wake the hell up, and understand that anti-gay violence and homophobia is a problem. We need to address it. At Pulse people could enjoy the happiness and freedom that they couldnt have outside. Its sad and frightening that its gone.”
Currently, what Sosa is particularly seeing is huge needs and disarray on the part of family members. We have people trying to get here from Honduras, Puerto Rico, a variety of places, and are facing issues of getting visas, hotels, and air fares. On top of all of that their child or loved one is dead. There are other challenges too, like the transporting of bodies, whether in the US or outside it. There has been an amazing amount of assistance from companies and individuals, and people offering their rooms and hotel rooms. The community couldnt perhaps be doing better.
When I ask Heather Wilkie, Director of Zebra Coalition, an organization serving the needs of Orlando’s LGBTs, aged 13 -2 4, how she is doing, she chuckles softly. “I have an auto-pilot answer for that now, ” Wilkie says.’ I’m hanging in there.'”
Since Sunday, the Coalition has been working closely with the LGBT Center, taking on the responsibility of running a hotline. Young people were scared to even come to the building after the event.
“The long-term impact may be that people feel afraid and what does that do for someone like a young person coming to words with themselves, came to see you, and connecting to the lesbian community? There are a couple of ways that may manifest–not reaching out for help, or internalizing unhealthy behaviours associated with that: substance abuse, nervousnes, depression, all of that.”