Who Will Cry Out For Orlando

My heart sits heavy in my chest and at times it feels hard to breathe. That wouldn’t be anyone’s first guess as I walk through each day since the tragedy the struck so many with a smile on my face and a little bit of light to share with the world. The reality of it all is there are 50 people who are gone, more who are injured, and the attack on them felt like a straight bullet into me. Being a queer, Cuban-Puerto Rican, brown womxn with heavy convictions made the attack in Orlando almost unbearable. As I got off of a plane in New York and walked out of La Guardia, I was bombarded by missed calls and text messages saying “WTF is happening in Orlando right now?” I had no idea. I was thousands of feet in the air with no service or access to any other part of the world but clouds and sky.

Being a queer, Cuban-Puerto Rican, brown womxn with heavy convictions made the attack in Orlando almost unbearable. As I got off of a plane in New York and walked out of La Guardia, I was bombarded by missed calls and text messages saying “WTF is happening in Orlando right now?” I had no idea. I was thousands of feet in the air with no service or access to any other part of the world but clouds and sky. As I scrolled through all my messages, one from my cousin came in asking me if my brother was safe. My first reaction was hysteria. Why wouldn’t he be? As far as I knew he was in Miami doing just fine. That was the moment when I went online to see what everyone was talking about. That was when I read about Pulse. That was when my heart instantly broke. Without finishing the article I instantly closed out of Facebook and called my brother in tears. He answered, worried that something had happened to me, and I couldn’t stop thinking “thank you for answering the phone” over and over again. My cousin was wrong about him possibly being out of town and in Orlando celebrating pride, but the truth is his safety has been a worry for me since I could remember.

The fact of the matter is being LGBTQI+ and a person of color has never been a safe skin to live in. Having that realization was a huge part of why it took me so long to come to terms with my own sexuality. Feeling like there was never really a safe place to be out and open and fully myself caused me to hide in ways that meant so much more than coming out to my friends, family and the world. It meant constantly making sure that if I was affectionate in public I was also surrounded by people who would keep me safe. It meant never truly feeling comfortable holding a partner’s hand on the street if we were walking alone--in case someone got offended at the sight and became violent. It meant hiding parts of myself that I loved for the comfort of others. In the hours and days that have passed I have spent as much time as possible reaching out to my queer family, making sure that I was sending as much healing energy as I could and holding space for them when needed. It’s been a time when some of the people closest to me and the most unexpected have held space for me. And in all of the ugliness, the politicizing without giving our community a chance to grieve, a real sense of feeling lost in all this pain, there was a real clear moment of what should matter the most: love. Hatred has never been, and never will be, something easy to erase. Ignorance in one fashion or another seems like it will never die. I can sit in that understanding and feel a sense of calm because for all those people, comments and ideals filled with hate, there are thousands of people standing up and fighting with love. It is with the strength of that force that today I sit here typing these words and remembering their names:

Stanley Almodovar
Amanda Alvear
Oscar A. Aracena-Montero
Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala
Antonio Davon Brown
Darryl Roman Burt II
Angel L. Candelario-Padro
Juan Chavez Martinez
Luis Daniel Conde
Cory James Connell
Tevin Eugene Crosby
Deonka Diedra Drayton
Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez
Leroy Valentin Fernandez
Mercedez Marisol Flores
Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz
Juan Ramon Guerrero
Paul Terrel Henry
Frank Hernandez
Miguel Angel Honorato
Javier Jorge-Reyes
Jason Benjamin Josephat
Eddie Jamoldroy Justice
Anthony Luis Laureano Disla
Christopher “Drew” Andrew Leinonen
Alejandro Barrios Martinez
Brenda Lee Marquez McCool
Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez
KJ Morris
Akyra Money Murray
Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo
Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez
Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera
Joel Rayon Paniagua
Jean Carlos Menendez Perez
Enrique L. Rios
Jean C. Nives Rodriguez
Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado
Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz
Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan
Edward Sotomayor Jr.
Shane Evan Tomlinson
Martin Benitez Torres
Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega
Juan P. Rivera Velazquez
Luis S. Vielma
Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez
Luis Daniel Lestat Wilson-Leon
Jerald “Jerry” Arthur Wright

It is with them in mind that I refuse to talk about the politics of it all now. It is with them in my heart that I begin to heal from the hurt and devastation of the reality of the world.

Until we realize that unless we achieve the liberation of black, brown, trans, cis, man, womxn, gender nonconforming, able bodied and non-able bodied, Muslim and any other identity that makes us feel authentically who we are, there will be liberation for none of us. This world will NEVER be free. My existence is resistance. OUR existence is resistance. With that in mind I will never stop fighting, I will never stop rebelling until we are all free. It’s time. LET’S GET FREE together or not at all.


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