Yet few mainstream media sources turned their attention toward an escalating climate of violence in the United States against LGBTQ people – and transgender women of color in particular – that has nothing to do with Islamic extremism. Last year, 23 transgender women were murdered – most of whom were women of color – in what is widely considered a national epidemic that appears to have no end in sight.
The truth is that some of the primary actors of terrorism against LGBTQ people of color in this country are in fact much more homegrown: our legislatures and bodies of law enforcement. The victims of this weekend’s tragedy were celebrating the anniversary of a night when mostly queer and trans people of color – many of whom were Latinxs – fought back against discriminatory policing.
In this context, it feels difficult not to think of the violence that the patrons of Pulse – which also operated as an important community center – experienced over the weekend as a continuation of the violence that has been enacted upon LGBTQ communities of color.
For this reason, these attacks feel intensely personal. For LGBTQ Latinxs, the club is where many of us go to feel at home and free – a place to escape from state-sanctioned violence. When so many of us are rejected from our families of origin for part or all of our lives, the club is where many of us experienced our whole selves for the first time: where we see queer and trans people upending gendered notions of how we dance salsa, merengue, and cumbia, where we can be free in our sexuality while still connected to our roots perreando to some dembow.