Every month someone at The LAMP chooses a Luminary to celebrate. Typically, this is someone who has used media in a way that broke new ground, advanced an important cause, subverted conventions, made us look differently at the world.
I can’t pick out one person whose actions during the Orlando shooting on Sunday were more heroic than others. From the many concerned loved ones who rushed immediately to Pulse nightclub, to the mile-long lines of people who waited in 90+ degree Orlando sun to donate blood, to the more than 50,000 people from across the world who have contributed over $3 million dollars (and counting) to help the families of the victims…the acts of love and support rising in response to this tragedy are too numerous to name or elevate just one.
So I’m not going to do that.
Instead, I’m dedicating this month’s post to the entire LGBTQ community of Orlando.
Most of the people who were killed in Sunday morning’s massacre probably didn’t consider themselves activists. They were a diverse group of people, brought together by an LGBT club celebrating Latin Night–a space devoted to Latin music and performance. The overwhelming majority of the 49 people who lost their lives were queer and Latinx.
As we keep hearing, Pulse nightclub was a place of solace, where people went not just to dance but to seek comfort and refuge amongst an accepting community. But going to Pulse was also an act of resistance. As this tragedy has shown us, if you are LGBTQ–and particularly if you are a queer person of color–simply declaring your existence is an act of courage.
During the attack, people in the club used media to fight for their lives.They used texts, Snapchat and Twitter to check in with friends, to create meeting spots, and, heartbreakingly, to try and escape. LGBTQ groups in the area set up hotlines, donation sites, and used social media to alert the public about the tragedy and what they could do to help. As quickly as the tragedy unfolded, support spread through the arteries of the internet.
People immediately began sending messages of solidarity using hashtags like #SomosOrlando #GaysBreaktheInternet and #LoveWins. When mainstream news coverage broke, with its predictable focus on the shooter’s Muslim faith and elimination of any context regarding systemic violence against queer people of color, the community and its allies fought back.
In a video created by Familia Trans Queer Liberation Movement, Bea Esperanza Fonseca says:
“We as Queer and Trans Latinx people need to see what happened as a reminder that our human dignity, our lives are connected to the liberation of Black people, Muslim people, of women, of Trans people.”
Cherno Biko, one of the founders of #BlackTransLivesMatter, posted images of the flier for Pulse’s Latin Night, reminding us that hate violence disproportionately targets trans women of color.
In these sorrow-soaked days following the attack, the LGBTQ community and its allies continue to use media in the struggle for survival. Some of their commentary focuses on the hypocrisy of politicians professing their support for a community they have actively discriminated against, or expressing disbelief that such hatred could exist in a state where it is still legal to fire or deny housing to someone because they are gay. Some comments tackle Islamophobic reactions and media commentary, and the erasure of the victims’ racial identities and struggles.
Through all these interventions, we fight for the lives that ended at Pulse nightclub on Sunday morning not to be erased.
These are the names of the people who fought for, and ultimately lost their lives in the Orlando shooting. And who, through the courage of their existence, fought for the dignity and humanity of countless others.
Let’s all continue to speak, hear, and remember their names.
Rest in Power.
Stanley Almodovar III, 23 years old
Amanda Alvear, 25 years old
Oscar A Aracena-Montero, 26 years old
Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33 years old
Antonio Davon Brown, 29 years old
Darryl Roman Burt II, 29 years old
Angel L. Candelario-Padro, 28 years old
Juan Chevez-Martinez, 25 years old
Luis Daniel Conde, 39 years old
Cory James Connell, 21 years old
Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25 years old
Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32 years old
Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, 31 years old
Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25 years old
Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26 years old
Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22 years old
Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22 years old
Paul Terrell Henry, 41 years old
Frank Hernandez, 27 years old
Miguel Angel Honorato, 30 years old
Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40 years old
Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19 years old
Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30 years old
Anthony Luis Laureanodisla, 25 years old
Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32 years old
Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21 years old
Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, 49 years old
Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25 years old
Kimberly Morris, 37 years old
Akyra Monet Murray, 18 years old
Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20 years old
Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez, 25 years old
Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36 years old
Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32 years old
Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35 years old
Enrique L. Rios, Jr., 25 years old
Jean C. Nives Rodriguez, 27 years old
Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35 years old
Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz, 24 years old
Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan, 24 years old
Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34 years old
Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33 years old
Martin Benitez Torres, 33 years old
Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, 24 years old
Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37 years old
Luis S. Vielma, 22 years old
Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, 50 years old
Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37 years old
Jerald Arthur Wright, 31 years old
Information on the victims is being updated as it becomes available here.