Worst Mass Shooting in Modern US History Takes Place at Orlando Gay Club on Latino-Themed Night

Lead Photo: Steve Nesius / Reuters
Steve Nesius / Reuters
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In the middle of the night, Pulse nightclub – a gay club in Orlando – updated its Facebook page with a haunting message: “Everybody get out out of pulse and keep running.” The message didn’t provide enough context, but commenters soon filled in the gaps with their own account of the harrowing experience. At around 2 a.m. Omar Mateen – a United States citizen living in Port St. Lucie, Florida – opened fire on the crowd of more than 300. Mateen eventually took dozens of people hostage inside the club, and it wasn’t until 5 a.m. that police killed him, saving the lives of about 30 people, according to The New York Times. With more than 50 dead, it’s the biggest mass shooting by a civilian in U.S. history.

Just six hours before Pulse’s chilling Facebook update, the club invited Latinos to drop in on Saturday for its Latino-themed night. Puerto Rican drag queen Kenya Michaels was set to be one of the guests; former Ru Paul’s Drag Race contestant Yara Sofia later reported that Michaels made it out safely. According to USA Today, Pulse describes itself as “not just another gay club,” and providing a safe space for the LGBTQ Latino community is proof of that.

Amidst speculation that Mateen was motivated by Islamic extremism and renewed conversations about gun control, the media has failed to report that this attack targeted LGBTQ communities of color. A 2012 report on hate violence against the gay community found that LGBTQ people of color were 1.82 times more likely to experience physical violence. In 2012, 73.1 percent of anti-LGBTQ homicide victims were people of color – with black/African Americans accounting for 54 percent and Latinos for 15 percent, according to Colorlines.

Former Pulse dancer Marco Di’Costa told the Miami Herald that the club attracted people of all backgrounds, and that Saturday’s Latin nights often drew many Latinos.

Many in the Latino community are speaking out about the lack of attention being given to violence against LGBTQ communities of color, and at the same time, they are striking down Islamophobia. Check out a few tweets below:

While the Orlando Sentinel reports that One Blood centers are filled to capacity due to the influx of donations, there’s still a need for donors. Gawker and other media outlets are reporting that because of the gravity of the situation, there’s been a temporary lift on blood donations from gay men. Currently, the FDA doesn’t allow gay men who have had sex with other men in the last year to donate blood.

Update, 2 p.m.: One Blood says that all FDA rules remain in place.