It is one of those days that despite being paralyzed, I question and I wonder. I am thankful I can still think.
I biked 26 miles yesterday but I still cannot overcome this sorrow, anger, pain and loss. I have emailed every single one of my students from Central Connecticut State University who could have possibly been at The Pulse in Orlando. Many of them do summer internships at Disney World. I am glad that all of them are safe.
Something big puzzles me. The majority of the brothers and sisters killed in Orlando were Latinos. In fact, the State Department of Puerto Rico has just been informed that most of the victims have roots in the island. It was a Latino Night Celebration.
As a Puerto Rican, I ask myself if before they left for a night out, they asked their mothers for their blessings — “La Bendición.” I have to question if they were wearing those new pairs of tennis shoes or clothing items they had worked so hard to get so that they would look good. Being a gay man and fully familiarized with our gay culture, I ask how many of them were going there with the idealism of meeting the love of their lives, just to have fun or possibly catching a one-night stand; all of them are fine with me.
What strikes me the most, however, is the fact that the correlates to this tragedy have been slowly created and festered by religious intolerance and radicalism. How isolated was this guy to plan these despicable acts? How weak is our system of intelligence and law enforcement to let him fall through the cracks after three interviews?
You don´t need to be a systems engineer to understand that the FBI and the system screwed up to the extent of causing a massive loss of lives. This is the same system that has touted so many successes in Guantanamo base through torture. I guess that if there is no pain, there is no gain.
Connecticut is my home. I am here equally frustrated today and similarly pained as I was after the Newtown massacre three years ago.
The gun control system in this country plainly stinks. Are we enslaved by the NRA? If I were allowed to use gay jargon, I would say that we are their property. (I will not use the “B word.”) If the deaths of 24 children in Newtown did not raise awareness, neither will those of 49 gay human beings.
I asked my trusted attorney yesterday to help me get the necessary permits for a gun; I refuse to get killed lying down. He explained how long of a process would likely be. Meanwhile, I can go to an arms show and get an AK-47 much easier. There is something very wrong, and neither President Obama, the NRA, or the U.S. Congress seem to understand.
During the next few days, we will have to endure a long parade of memorials. There will be emotional speeches. They will be spiked by fake tears. Also, the Northeast corridor will be harmed by the huge carbon footprints from Air Force One flying down to Orlando. Meanwhile, there will be many “Mamás and Papás” Latinos and gay friends grieving forever for their collective losses, as I am.
This was the most significant act of violence against the gay community ever in the United States. It should not be framed in any other way but as a gay massacre. If I may borrow the slogan form the Sixties: “We shall overcome.” Maybe we will have to throw some political stones. And trust me, we have the money to buy them. The mainstream calls them lobbying. After all, we achieved marriage equality.
May we get some level of peace….
Serafin Mendez-Mendez, Ph.D., is a professor of communication at Central Connecticut State University.