On June 14, two days after the murder of 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Isa Noyola (Director of Programs for the Transgender Law Center) told Democracy Now “we are not lifting appropriately our community of LGBT Latina, Latinx leaders in this moment.” As a queer Latinx myself, I could not agree more. Thus, I want to highlight some of the work being done by Latinx LGBT leaders in this moment, and discuss ways to be of support to the Orlando community.
On Monday, June 13, Jarrett Lucas, Executive Director of Stonewall Community Foundation and Afro-Latino activist, created an emergency response fund to benefit Orlando, stating “Stonewall Community Foundation exists to mobilize resources for the LGBTQ community. We began this work in the 1980s during a time of crisis, and proudly continue it now.” This new fund is currently open to financial donations. [Disclaimer, I also work with the Stonewall Community Foundation and assisted in creating this fund.]
Jarrett Lucas and I further discussed work being done by LGBT Latinx activists on the local, state, and national level. Lucas stated, “To be honest, there aren’t enough Latinx LGBTQ people in positions of institutional leadership. Though there are many activists and organizers doing the work.” Lucas told me about the Director of Pride Lines, Victor Diaz-Herman, another queer Latinx activist in Miami, who has also been in conversation with Orlando about ways to be of support.
One of the main organizations raising funds and providing support to the LGBTQ community in Orlando right now is called Equality Florida. This is a statewide LGBT organization. As of June 15, Equality Florida has raised 4.5 million dollars via GoFundMe to help support the victims at Pulse Nightclub. This money will be used with the City of Orlando, local partners, and the National Center for Victims of Crime. Often, money from such campaigns is used to cover funeral costs, hospital costs, grief counseling, and more long term aid to communities affected by such loss.
Other organizations that support LGBTQ people in Orlando include Miracle of Love and The Center. The Center is raising funds on a GoFundMe page too. They are also partnering with MBA (Central Florida’s LGBT Chamber of Commerce), Hope and Help, Two Spirit Health, Zebra Coalition, Rollins, and various other LGBT organizations throughout Central Florida to provide an emergency hotline and crisis counseling. If anyone is interested in supporting the victims of the mass killings in Orlando then I would encourage you to donate to one of these campaigns and to get in contact with your local LGBTQ organizations about how to be of support from wherever you reside.
Beyond local organizing, it will take national support to combat the homophobia and transphobia of our current times. Yesterday, June 14, another trans woman of color was murdered in New Orleans. Her name was Goddess Diamond. She is the fourteenth trans person to be killed this year; already putting 2016 on track to likely surpass last year as the most lethal year on record for trans and gender-nonconforming people. The violence at Pulse was an example of the violence that many LGBTQ of color live with constantly. It is my hope that when the initial awe of the massacre passes, that our communities will still stand together, to support LGBTQ people. This support comes in different forms, from actively hiring LGBTQ people of color into positions of leadership to helping combat LGBTQ youth homelessness, to speaking against the deportation and detention of undocumented LGBTQ people.
On a daily basis, Latinx LGBTQ activists such as Jennicet Eva Gutiérrez, Alan Pelaez Lopez, Sonia Guiñansaca, Julio Salgado, and so many more are fighting for their communities. Join them in the fight! Don’t be like Florida Governor, Rick Scott, who only acknowledged the attack occurred against LGBTQ people after two days of pressure.
We have much work to do for LGBTQ liberation and we cannot afford to be complacent.