Orlando: Tragedy of the Century

Orlando: Tragedy of the Century

Val Walls

June 12, 2016. Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida was full of patrons attending the “Latin flavor” event. Pulse is self-described as “the hottest gay bar” in Orlando. June is LGBT+ pride month, and the clubgoers were expecting this to be a celebration of their identities. However, one man with one gun changed not only their lives, but the entire LGBT+ community. Omar Mateen entered Pulse with an assault rifle and pistol that he purchased within the last two weeks. He “expressed anger when he saw two men kissing in Miami,” according to his parents. Mateen opened fire at approximately 2:00 a.m., and kept shooting for so long that it “could have lasted a whole song,” said Christopher Hansen, who was present at the time of the shooting. In less than an hour, Mateen killed 50 people, and injured more than 53 others. After a standoff of about three hours, police came to the scene with an armored vehicle and killed Mateen. With 50 deaths, this is now the largest shooting in American history.

There is no confirmed motive for this shooting, but many speculate that this was a hate crime against LGBT+ people. Kelsey Beckham, a member of the queer community, said, “This shooting feels so defeating. It’s a reminder that we’re never safe.” They went to multiple vigils with their friends Sunday night for the victims, and feel sympathy for all of the victims and their families. Their friend, who wished to remain anonymous, made a comment on the impact this event is making on the LGBT+ community: “So many queer and trans people, especially queer and trans people of color, have to work so hard to try to stay safe, but it’s impossible. We have to plan for crisis.” This tragedy has created a block in the road for progress towards equality. Beckham sadly noted, “These 50 people who were killed at an LGBTQ night club on Latinx night, of course they didn’t and couldn’t have and shouldn’t have expected this. But now we queer and trans people have this in our heads as another crisis to plan for and be on alert. The fact that so many news reportings and other people ignore that this shooting happened deliberately at a gay night club and that it was Latinx and that it is a hate crime is disgusting. And the fact that they are demonizing the entire religion of Islam is disgusting. Lgbtq people know it was no accident, but me and many others don’t understand what about our identities and expression and bodies is so worthy of murdering.” They see this event, similarly to many other LGBT+ people, as a deliberate hate crime against queer people. They are disheartened by the media’s disregard for the true motives of Mateen’s attack, and especially how news outlets are using this as an excuse to further ostracize the Muslim people of America.

Mateen’s parents have stated that he is not particularly religious, as he is not fasting for Ramadan, and does not pray regularly. Regardless, the media has latched onto his racial background as reason to demonize Muslims. Despite the clear issues with this country’s gun control policy, the government is resisting taking this tragedy as reason to further restrict them. As closing thoughts, Beckham added, “I think it’s also important to remind everyone that this isn’t only about people with guns. Hate happens everywhere with something someone says or does that just adds to the marginalization and hurt of queer and trans folks.”

The thoughts and prayers of everyone in Spectrum go out to the victims of the Orlando shooting, and hopefully nothing like this happens ever again. Below is a list of victims’ names.

Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34

Stanley Almodovar III, 23

Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20

Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22

Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36

Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22

Luis S. Vielma, 22

Kimberly Morris, 37

Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30

Darryl Roman Burt II, 29

Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32

Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21

Anthony Luis Laureanodisla, 25

Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35

Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, 50

Amanda Alvear, 25

Martin Benitez Torres, 33

Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37

Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26

Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35

Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25

Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, 31

Oscar A. Aracena-Montero, 26

Enrique L. Rios, Jr., 25 years old

Miguel Angel Honorato, 30 years old

Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40 years old

Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32 years old

Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19 years old

Cory James Connell, 21 years old

Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37 years old

Luis Daniel Conde, 39 years old

Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33 years old

Juan Chevez-Martinez, 25 years old

Jerald Arthur Wright, 31

Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25

Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25

Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, 24

Jean C. Nives Rodriguez, 27

Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33

Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, 49

Yilmary Rodriguez Sulivan, 24

Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32

Angel L. Candelario-Padro, 28

Frank Hernandez, 27

Paul Terrell Henry, 41