The Club Is Our Safe Space, and No One Will Rob Us of It

“That could have been me.” 

Those are the words that play repeatedly in my mind as I see the continued coverage of the tragedy at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando. For young Black and Latino gay, bisexual, and same-gender loving men like me, the club is our place to gather as a community, and last Sunday its sanctity was violated with the same violence we experience by unapologetically living our lives outside its doors.

The club is our safe space. It is there that we can escape the very real danger that LGBT Black and Latino folks face for being who we are around our families and in our neighborhoods. The club gives us space away from the violence that persists in our heteronormative culture, and on Sunday morning that safety, as illusory as it might have been, vanished with the lives of 49 young queer Black and Latino people and the injuries of 53 others.

The fact that this tragedy was at a gay club, on a night that appreciated a predominantly Latino community matters. It matters because, in those moments, behind those walls, we are able to dance and love without being afraid of physical violence and verbal abuse. We are able to be who we are for those few hours, before returning to our daily lives that force us to edit ourselves for survival.

We must remember and uplift the stories of those affected because our stories are not often told: stories of brilliance, creativity, and perseverance in the face of daily adversity. Stories that ended much too soon, due to violence and hate fueled by the rhetoric many have endured because of who they are and whom they love.

Where I live, there are very few places where I can feel affirmed in the intersections of my queerness and Blackness — spaces that offer the opportunity to hold both identities, without choosing one over the other are few and far between. Coming out at 16, I had the privilege of finding an LGBT serving youth center, a place where I found a community and a support system that many young people desire but cannot find.

We are able to be who we are for those few hours, before returning to our daily lives that force us to edit ourselves for survival.

When I turned 18, I entered my first club, joined by other LGBT young people who stayed there from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., because they did not have an affirming home to go to for the night. When the club ended, they walked around until either school started or their service agency reopened in the morning.

Moving to New York, I find that despite the many events that happen for LGBT people of color, I can always count on the club as a consistent space to be myself. There I can dance and socialize without the fear of being harmed. For my gender-nonconforming peers, there they can be who they are without apology.

In this Pride month, as we mourn those we lost, we must remain mindful that the spectrum of violence that affects LGBT Black and Latino people remains. Some will try to understand the motives of the shooter, but we must not let the lives of those harmed be overshadowed. We must march louder, love harder, and rebuild those spaces that allow us to be ourselves, while continuing to make every space a safe one.

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Anonymous

Non-Christians & atheists can also be against homosexuality, so this Orlando mass murder not result of privileged White Christian men. Talking with others & posting on US & People Magazine, posters have been offended by me saying that I wouldn't be surprised if 1 or more of the victims were possibly drug dealers & or gay pedophiles While it's irrelevant to fact mass murder is wrong, it's relevant to idea of worshiping the victims, as just because some1 is a murder victim doesn't change ugly facts of who they were before they were killed.

Anonymous

I wouldn't be surprised if 1 or more of the victims were possibly drug dealers & or gay pedophiles. As it's a gay/lesbian pub, wouldn't surprise me if drugs were sold & some victims were pedophiles since gays & lesbians (esp. gays) were often pedophile victims & pedophile victims often turn out to be gay pedophiles in adulthood.

Anonymous

Adele Laurie Blue Adkins in a June 2016 concert used F word among other things when talking about Orlando shooting among songs Mass murder is wrong, but we should not worship the victims. Though this will offend, it wouldn’t surprise me if 1 or more of the murder victims were drug dealers & or gay pedophiles. Murder is wrong but that doesn’t mean worship murder victim. We should only say murder is wrong.

Anonymous

hepard Foundation JC Marsden got offended by saying F word + other things when I said possibility 1 or more Orlando massacre victims were drug dealers proves he has no rebuttal. JC Marsden is dishonest If JC Marsden had rebuttal he would've smartly done so. JC Marsden knows that many gays were victims of pedophiles as 1 or more of the Orlando victims could have been as kids & pedophile victims sometimes turn out gay/lesbian as a result of childhood sex abuse including turn out to be gay/lesbian pedophiles. Gays & lesbians have higher drug junkyism rates because of childhood sex abuse. JC Marsden knows he has no rebuttal so he does ad homenims because facts him.

Anonymous

Metthew Wayne Shepard (1976-1998) was not the innocent as he has been portrayed by Laramie Project or films like Shepard is a Friend of Mine. Metthew Wayne Shepard was a junky who assoc. with drug dealers in both Colorado & Wyoming, was possibly a drug dealer himself (Methew Wayne Shepard could also possibly have been a drug courier or a lookout) & when he was 15 years old, he was arrested for molesting 2 boys & he got counseling by Natrona County Juvenile Court for molesting 2 boys.

Joshua

I don't attend Pride Festivals every year in my state but I'll be damned if I'm not going this year. This time, I'll be cheering and celebrating just a little harder. I don't even have the words to express how I feel but this article is a good start. Thanks D'Angelo. Love is greater than hate. Our community has been through so much in the past and we are only stronger and closer because of it.

Anonymous

Let’s look @ what we do know about Methew W. Shepard. No matter why the murder happened, the idea that A.J. McKinney and Methew W. Shepard were strangers who did not know eachother until that day is rubbish. There are many witnesses-Doc O’ Connor’s ex girlfriend, Elaine Baker (bartender), M.K. Rohrbacher (drug dealer), Tristan (Ted) Henson (Methew W. Shepard’s former lover) & others who saw them together.
It’s not believed Methew W. Shepard knew the 2nd man (R.A. Henderson) and I agree with Stephen Jimenez that Russell A. Henderson should have gotten a jury trial but got bad representation by his lawyers who urged him to take a plea when he wanted a jury trial. Book of Matt by Stephen Jimenez Stephen Jimenez’s evidence are 1st party witnesses he interviewed-over 100 of them over 13 years.
I don’t think Methew W. Shepard should have been killed but it is truth that Methew W. Shepard molested 8 year old boys and got counseling for this when he was 15 years old-Stephen Jimenez incidentally mentioned this near end of book-he interviewed a Casper Wyoming cop and a relative of 1 of victims. But Judy L. Shepard and the Shepard Foundation omits this ugly truth of Methew W. Shepard being a child molester and it would not surprise me if ex Casper Star Tribune journalists Tiffany C. Hunt, Kerry A. Drake and JC Marsden know this but left this out in that I find it hard to believe these 3 Casper Wyoming journalists did not know about Methew W. Shepard molesting 8 year old boys when he was 15 years old because Stephen Jimenez found this in court records and again, Stephen Jimenez incidentally mentioned this near end of book as most of the book was about the 3 people, A.J. McKinney’s problems, Methew W. Shepard’s life and problems and of course the drug problems. Incidentally, it’s possible that Methew W. Shepard had molested more boys other than the 2 case reported to cops. Both JC Marsden & Big Island Chronicle Tiffany Camille Hunt sees nothing wrong with Methew W. Shepard selling drugs and molesting children so their view is rubbish.
Methew W. Shepard associating with drug dealers in both Wyoming and Colorado is not disputable. Methew W. Shepard went into bars where drugs were sold and he did associate with drug dealers-we know that he went to bars named Tornado, Ranger, Library & other bars in Wyoming and Colorado where drugs were sold. Methew W. Shepard’s friend Tina LaBrie expressing concerns about Methew W. Shepard’s drug and $ problems. We know that Methew W. Shepard was having $ problems (spending so much on limosuine rides in Doc O’ Connor’s limousine).
Methew W. Shepard’s a junky (proven fact), drunkard and had money problems. Sheriff O’Malley has said that if Methew W. Shepard sold drugs, the cops would have known which is dishonest-Sheriff David S. O’Malley and Sgt. R.J. DeBree know cops don’t always catch all the criminals and that many drug dealers escape detection. Sheriff David S. O’Malley and Sgt. Robert J. DeBree have arrested drug dealers and they know how it’s the family and friends who get surprised after they learn some1 they know is a drug dealer.
Sheriff David S. O’Malley and Sgt. Robert J. DeBree know that it’s unlikely MW. Shepard told his friends and family that he was a drug dealer, and even if Methew W. Shepard did tell his friends and family that he sold drugs, don’t think his family will admit this ugly as they had tried to hide the fact that Methew Wayne Shepard molested 8 year old boys and got counseling.
Now was Methew W. Shepard’s assocation with drug dealers and going into bars where drugs were sold more than buying drugs ? Was Methew W. Shepard a drug dealer or a drug courier? Stephen Jimenez thinks so and he believes it was the Denver circle. No, Stephen Jimenez does not know it all but his conclusions are sincere and honest. While homosexual groups complain about Stephen Jimenez saying the murder case is complicated and possibly not a hate crime, that is incidental-main reason homosexual groups are offended by Stephen Jimenez’s book is because he talked about the ugly truths about who M.W. Shepard was. You don’t always know the secrets friends and family have. If a person is a drug dealer, then they are usually not going to tell their friends and family that they do this.
Even if Metthew W. Shepard did tell his friends and family that he sold drugs, don’t think his family will admit this ugly truth about him, as they had tried to hide the fact that Methew Wayne Shepard molested 8 year old boys and got counseling for it. Laramie Project, Shepard Foundation & Big Island Chronicle Tiffany Camille Hunt sees nothing wrong with Methew W. Shepard selling drugs and molesting children so their view is rubbish.

Anonymous kb

You need to educate yourself through reputable sources. Your rhetoric seems straight off a far right wing religious website that bases it's dogma on hate. Your hate is palpable as you can't seem to stop spewing your in rapid fire. Why are you on this website which is dedicated to protecting the civil rights of everyone, even when they are as despicable as you. Kb

Anonymous

What does that murder have to do with Orlando? Shepard died in the last century thousands of miles from Florida. The article here is about victims in Florida, not a victim of crime from the 20th century.

cowboy007

All lgbt'ers out there should know that Ebay is removing all listings on its website that are trying to raise money for the pulse club disaster. One executive admitted that ebay is Anti gay, and even tho it will allow listings for gay material, it will NOT allow any listings that will raise money to assist in helping any of the victims, as Ebay doesn't believe in that type of lifestyle. Just go to Ebay and type in anything related to the shooting and you will see that over 200 listings have been removed for t shirts, stckers, everything. EBAY HATES GAYS

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