We are heartbroken by the recent tragedy at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida which killed 49 people, the majority of whom were Latinx and other LGBTQ people of color.
As women living with and affected by HIV, many of us have been supported, mentored, and loved by the LGBTQ community when nobody else understood what we were going through. Our members include queer people, people of trans experience, lesbian and bisexual people, people of color, Latinx people, Black people, people of Muslim faith, people of immigrant experience, and people who are living with mental illness. The sense of shock, loss and despair is visceral and reverberates through our hearts and spirits.
We mourn for those who lost their lives seeking safety to celebrate their truths. We stand in solidarity with their loved ones and with all our community members who are experiencing the collateral harm of a lost sense of safety, held space and integrity in the wake of this unfathomable act of violence. We recognize that state-sanctioned violence against black and brown bodies as well as queer bodies takes many forms, including a spate of recent legislation criminalizing LGBTQ communities, and that discrimination, stigma, homophobia, transphobia and misogyny are not just uncomfortable experiences – they are literally killing people.
June marks Pride month throughout the country— a hard-won celebration of the diversity, vibrancy and resilience of the LGTBQ community. In this historically jubilant time to seek comfort in living out the full expression of our identities, we grieve. Yet, while we mourn and search for ways to heal, we also practice resistance.
We call for an increased commitment to actively fight against racism, homophobia and transphobia and the perpetual targeting of black and brown queer bodies by state-sanctioned and interpersonal attacks of violence. We disavow rhetorical responses to this tragedy that seek to divide us and that attempt to perpetuate further injustice and harm. Suggestions that entire religious communities, people with mental illness, people of color, or immigrants should be increasingly targeted, surveilled, policed or banned from this country – which was built on the backs of people of color — are unacceptable.
We must stand up and speak up for the right of every person to live openly as who they are without sacrificing safety, security, or dignity, challenging those who would rather demonize entire groups of human beings than address the deeper systemic problems that breed hate and violence. And even as we do that, we must thrive, celebrate our own courageous lives and the lives of those lost, and continue to love and support one another as we heal.