THOUGHTS N FEELINGS

After Orlando, Remember Together

I've been incredibly fortunate to emerge in a time and in places where the progress of LGBTQ rights has felt strong and socially supported. I never saw governmental brutality against gays and drag queens like what played out in the Stonewall Riots in New York and the Donut Riots here in Downtown LA, one of the first gay uprisings in the United States. I grew up past the peak of the AIDS crisis; I didn't lose close friends to the disease or see my community deteriorate in response. As a confident male-identifying white person, it's been made relatively easy in 2016, on the east side of Los Angeles, for me to feel like being queer is ubiquitous with culture at large and that being gay isn't something that is threatened much anymore.

The attack in Orlando upended that. Violence and hate along sexual and racial lines still persists. The shooter particularly targeted gay Latinos. Though the incident may seem isolated - there has been no deadlier shooting in modern US history - it's a severe trigger. The loss that loved ones of victims and the Orlando community face provides a grave reminder of the losses faced by queer-identifying people throughout history.

There are lots of implicit calls to action in response to this terror (ban assault rifles now, please), but a simple and powerful one is to remember. The pain and loss of the past still billows around the present. I invite the Downtown Los Angeles community to remember those who lost their lives in Orlando, as well as the people and places that have been ripped from queer communities in Los Angeles and throughout our lives, by gathering together on Thursday 6/23 5-10pm to create an altar. At TAKE ME HOME L.A., Room 1003 will host this communal altar. I ask that you bring photos, books, and memorabilia as we create a temporary archive of queer history, as well as flowers or notes you wish to leave behind. More information is here.

With appreciation and in loving memory,

Ari