Six years ago today, another Sunday morning, I woke up to a message on my phone saying, “Holy sh*t! Did you see what happened at Pulse? Are you ok?”
I got out of bed groggy and confused but ran to my computer as my phone blew up. People I barely knew, frantic close friends checking on mutual friends and me, and even non-affirming family and friends all over the nation reached out.
That’s at the same time I was blowing up my other friend’s phones who lived here in Orlando, especially the ones I know who frequented or went to Pulse every once in a while as I did. It was a fun place to dance and have a drink with friends.
Later, I gathered with friends I was volunteering with at the time. When the number of dead skyrocketed from around 20 to 49, I will never forget the pall, horror, and breaking hearts that happened around the room.
49 Latinx, LGBTQ+ young people were murdered most horrifically. Today “The City Beautiful” and the greater Central Florida area remember their lives.
I write about all of this in my memoir. I rewrote the whole chapter on it last weekend. It was challenging to dredge up details of that morning and the aftermath that forever impacted friends and our community.
Some in the religious right tried to erase the Latinx and LGBTQ+ hatred that fueled the domestic terrorist with an AR-15. I know because one of their reps called me and asked if it was ok not to mention that it was a gay nightclub but a domestic terrorist attack on a nightclub.
I was shocked he called, so I tempered my response. I said, “No, it is lying by omission to simplify this as a domestic terror event at a nightclub. The Latinx LGBTQ+ community was targeted, and 49 were brutally murdered. So yes, it is a domestic terror incident at a nightclub, but if you leave the other two aspects out, you and the organization you represent will be bearing false witness (i.e. lying, mischaracterizing, misrepresenting). If you spin it that way, the world won’t see a loving response. They will see it as manipulative political spin because they will know the omission is on purpose.”
I hoped to see this former colleague on a cable news outlet, admitting the truth about the event and calling for gun regulations, but no such courage. They and the organization they represented were completely silent (as far as I know). I write more details about that situation, others like it, in the memoir.
Six years ago, I was home alone, bawling my eyes out for most of the day and night, week. Today I am married to a beautiful husband and have a daughter and two fur kids. I am typing this in our lovely little house, watching through the back windows as my husband plants new flowers by the back fence. Even so, I can’t imagine the pain and horror the survivors, and loved ones of the taken are going through, yet again, today.