By Jorge Diaz, MSW, Clinical Social Worker
On June 12, 2016, the world watched as the LGBT community mourned the loss of 49 individuals in the Pulse Night Club massacre in Orlando, Florida. An act of hate and violence took the lives of 49 individuals and affected millions around the world. Our worldwide LGBT community stood in solidarity and it appeared that the world stood by us in a time of grief and loss. For many, it is a day they might not want to remember, and for others, it is a night they may never forget. Many Angelinos went to bed Saturday night with plans to wake up for the Christopher West Parade during LA Pride weekend.
We had no idea that as we planned to celebrate our LGBT pride, Orlando Florida would be under attack. Forty-nine lives were lost in the hands of one individual-an individual that left the world wondering if he struggled with internalized homophobia or was this attack connected to the worldwide threat of ISIS. Within hours, we began to see the images and hear the stories of those impacted inside Pulse. As we grieved, we also stood in prayer for those fighting to stay alive.
Many wondered how the LGBT community would respond. Would we survive this act of hate and violence? For some of us who were not born to witness historical events such as the rise and death of Harvey Milk, Stonewall, the visibility and journey of HIV through the eyes of Pedro Zamora or our fight for equality in Proposition 8 or 22-the Orlando massacre unfortunately made U.S. history- making this incident the largest massacre in U.S. territory. We will never forget the Pulse Nightclub Massacre-but I am hopeful that our focus will remain on the 49 beautiful lives and on the survivors and the endless stories of acts of courage and bravery inside Pulse nightclub that horrific night.
For the Latino LGBT community, this attack was very close to home. The fear and uncertainty of our safety created dialogue and conversations. For many, this incident robbed us from our sense of safety and security in sacred places such as bars or nightclubs. It was heartbreaking to witness how many individuals challenged the label of Pulse Nightclub as a “sacred place.” For many of us, a nightclub or bar is a place where we create and build lifelong friendships. It is where many fall in love or meet their next partner while having a drink or dancing a cumbia. It is a place where we have freedom of expression through dance or fashion. Unfortunately, that all changed for many. What we knew as a “safe place,” was no longer safe. It may take some time for our community to regain a sense of safety and security, for now, we continue to process and rebuild. To the families of the 49 individuals who lost their lives-your loved one will forever be missed and they will go down in history as HEROES…