A Message To The Straight-Allies: Maintaining Safe Spaces And Honoring The Narratives For Queer And Trans People Of Color

Rainbow flag flown in the Thornton Park District of Downtown Orlando, FL.
Rainbow flag flown in the Thornton Park District of Downtown Orlando, FL.

I wake up every day in fear. Afraid of what the outside world has in store for me—for people like me. Afraid of the lingering stares, afraid of the not-so-quiet whispers, afraid of the taunting names that have followed people like me since adolescence—faggot, illegal, homo, joto, maricon. People like me—queer people, brown people—already feel that our lives, at any given moment, are threatened. We fear the threat of institutional violence, of interpersonal violence, now we’re forced to fear the threat of gun violence. 

On the morning of June 12th, 49 lives were stolen. Beautiful lives, gathered together in the celebration of their Latinidad. Innocent lives, celebrating our culture and our people. Lives that were stolen from the most sacred of spaces in our communities. Spaces that offer us a place of safety and unity. A place of camaraderie and community. A place of respite, of sanctuary. Spaces where our people gathered together to organize movements and combat oppression. Spaces of refuge for queer and trans people of color, that are now quickly being erased. Spaces that were created for us, by us. Spaces which we are fighting so hard to keep. Our culture, our people, our communities—all under attack.

Outside these hollowed spaces, a world exists that has made us into objects which to politicize. We have been dehumanized, our identities deconstructed and our rights put up for public debate. Politicians that view us as job stealing “illegals” and cross-dressing pedophiles. Bathroom bills policing the rights of my trans brothers and sisters’ right to use a public facility. A presidential candidate that has constructed a platform on xenophobic and racist rhetoric. Transphobic, queerphobic, and misogynistic legislation that targets us and our rights, all pending referendum in various states.

We have been dehumanized, our identities deconstructed and our rights put up for public debate.

The inexcusable omission, by the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Christian Pentecostal leaders, leaders of faith, white mainstream LGBTQ leadership, and straight Latino leadership, to mention this massacre took place in a space for queer and trans people of color further proliferates the erasure of the Latinx and Black experience. Spaces for queer and trans people of color have been co-opted by cis-gendered white turncoats and their allies. When our spaces for celebration, for community, for congregation, for healing have been robbed from us and made to be celebrated on “special nights,” we must rally together to honor that sacred space.

The narratives of queer and trans people of color, the lives, the experiences, are all under threat. We are queer, we are trans, we are brown, we are black, and we have known nothing but violence. Violence has taught us that we are not safe in this world, the necessity of always being on alert, and to scan, quickly, before any public displays of affection. Violence that has taught us that the mass genocide of my trans brothers and sisters of color is to be tolerated—to be expected. Violence has taught us to fear a state meant to uphold our inalienable right to be queer. This world is dangerous for people like us—because my people have suffered through genocide, wars fueled by US imperialism, poverty, environmental degradation, displacement, and police brutality.

This world is dangerous for people like us—because my people have suffered through genocide, wars fueled by US imperialism, poverty, environmental degradation, displacement, and police brutality.

We mourn an attack that has caused irreprehensible damage to the sanctity of our community, and has robbed us from our mamás, papás, hermanas, hemanos, amigos, and loved ones that made our community the most beautiful, the most diverse, the most loved. Cherished friends within our community that were just like all of us— that had accents like us, that danced like us, that were femme like us, that were butch like us, that were trans like us, and looked like us. This loss, the pain, it’s indescribable, and it’s deep in our corazón. They were our gente.

We must come together in support of one another. We must address the hateful and violent rhetoric that has been allowed to poison our community. We must cast down the callus messages from the pulpit of “loving the sinner, not the sin.” We must speak to those that believe our fight ended upon securing the right to marry. We must debunk the message that says that “love has won.” I say to you no, love did not win. Not until the full recognition of human rights and protections for all peoples, queer, trans, and of color alike are achieved. Not until every queer, trans, and person of color can feel safe leaving their homes and are able to live their lives unabashed. If you are not advocating for the full equality and protections of our people, those that have suffered homophobic, transphobic, and state violence, who’ve been discriminated when trying to access basic human services, then you are continuing that violence that ended the lives of my community that night at Noche Latina at Pulse Nightclub.

I am calling upon the members of our community, our straight-allies, our friends, and our families—do not simply change your profile photo or write a check, visibility is important, but equally so, we need you now more than ever to join us as we continue to fight for our rights, as we continue to fight for our lives.

Our existence, the mere pulse of our community, acts as a symbol of love and revolution.

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