Everything I might say about the deaths and injuries at the gay Pulse nightclub in Orlando has been said already by smarter, more compassionate, and more directly affected people than I. One thing that struck me was author Justine Larbalestier (@justinelavaworm)’s tweet:
Do not want to see that murderer’s face again. Want to know about the GLBT people he murdered in their safe place. Who they were matters.
— Justine Larbalestier (@JustineLavaworm) June 13, 2016
We focus so much on the “shooter,” the “gunman,” the “terrorist” and so little on the people whose lives were ended or forever changed. To that end, I refer you to Megan Friedman and Maggie Maloney’s Esquire article, which consists of pictures and capsule descriptions of 47 of the 49 people who died last weekend at the hands of a homophobic, gun-obsessed country through one of its citizens. I’m highlighting a few individuals whom I haven’t seen highlighted elsewhere. Over time, I feel obligated to look at all their photos and read about them all. which is not to say that anyone else should share that obligation.
Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, age 22. Gonzalez-Cruz was a UPS employee at the time of his death. He had lived in Central African Republic and New Jersey before moving to Orlando.
Mercedes Marisol Flores, age 26, worked at Target and attended Valencia Community College. Originally from Queens, New York, she lived in Davenport, Florida, at the time of the shooting. She was at Pulse Nightclub with her friend, Amanda Alvear, 25, who was also killed.
Miguel Angel Honorato, age 30, worked at FajitaMex Mexican Catering and lived in Apopka, Florida. The Orlando Sentinel reported that Miguel was a father to three children. His brother, Jose Honorato, said that he went to Pulse Nightclub with some friends.
The names and photos carry along with them the unmistakable fact that almost all these now dead and now-injured people were Latinx. By definition of where they were, most of them were queer, and the rest were almost certainly queer allies.
Caring about body image, to me, means caring about bodies, working towards a world where the living breathing people who are those bodies to have full lives, not cut short by hatred, especially hatred mediated by access to killing machines. In Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates says, “We could not control our enemies number, strength, nor weaponry. … What we must never do is willingly hand over our own bodies or the bodies of our friends.”