Tuesday, June 14, 2016

About Pulse

A couple weeks ago, my brother-in-law Scott got engaged in just about the most romantic way possible. His boyfriend Robby made him a video as he walked through places in LA important to their relationship. The footage included the phone calls Robby made to my in-laws requesting permission to propose. Then he surprised Scott by showing up unannounced in St. Croix to propose in person. The entire video is here, if you want to watch it. If you feel like crying some happy tears.
I'm sharing this because like Robby and Scott, there were couples in Pulse on Sunday who were planning to be married. Instead of sharing a wedding, they'll be sharing a funeral. One of these young men went to high school with a college friend of mine. This shooting hits very close to home.
Juan Ramon Guerrero and Christopher Leinonen
I have always been passionate about gay rights. Maybe it's because as a Jewish woman, I've faced discrimination myself and I feel particularly empathetic to those who are marginalized. Whatever the reason, I was a proponent for gay rights before Scott had come out, before my best friend had come out, before I'd even met a gay person.

I can't understand the hatred. I can understand confusion or fear, or even that "ick" factor people might feel before being exposed to gay people and having the chance to realize they're just normal people like everyone else. But the hatred? The need to kill them? That I cannot understand.

I also can't understand the hatred for people of color that is increasing exponentially everyday. We cannot forget that Pulse was targeted on Latin night. As racist rhetoric in this country swings out of control, we can't brush over the fact that the vast majority of the victims were Latino.

Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34 years old

Stanley Almodovar III, 23 years old
Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20 years old
Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22 years old
Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36 years old
Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22 years old
Luis S. Vielma, 22 years old
Kimberly Morris, 37 years old
Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30 years old
Darryl Roman Burt II, 29 years old
Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32 years old
Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21 years old
Anthony Luis Laureanodisla, 25 years old
Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35 years old
Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, 50 years old
Amanda Alvear, 25 years old
Martin Benitez Torres, 33 years old
Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37 years old
Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26 years old
Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35 years old
Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25 years old
Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, 31 years old
Oscar A Aracena-Montero, 26 years old
Enrique L. Rios, Jr., 25 years old
Miguel Angel Honorato, 30 years old
Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40 years old
Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32 years old
Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19 years old
Cory James Connell, 21 years old
Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37 years old
Luis Daniel Conde, 39 years old
Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33 years old
Juan Chevez-Martinez, 25 years old
Jerald Arthur Wright, 31 years old
Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25 years old
Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25 years old
Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, 24 years old
Jean C. Nives Rodriguez, 27 years old
Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33 years old
Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, 49 years old
Yilmary Rodriguez Sulivan, 24 years old
Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32 years old
Angel L. Candelario-Padro, 28 years old
Frank Hernandez, 27 years old
Paul Terrell Henry, 41 years old
Antonio Davon Brown, 29 years old
Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz, 24 years old

I'm too angry to sit here and say "pray for change" and "love always wins". I'm so damn tired of the same old script and the fact that within a month we'll have brushed this story aside for other news. I'm enraged that people - family members even - will express sadness over this horrific tragedy but will turn around and vote for the party that has continuously blocked gun legislation that would have stopped this murderer - twice investigated but he FBI and on the no-fly list - from purchasing those same guns he used to mow down 49 innocent people while they were in the prime of their lives. They will vote for the party that supports anti-gay and anti-POC rhetoric.
Write to your congressmen. Write to your senators. I'll be drafting a letter today and sending it to every politician who took money from the NRA and then had the gall to "pray for Orlando" via trite statements on Twitter.
Click for the Twitter feed.
Why can't America see that enough is enough? Gun control works in every other country that has passed it. Why do we insist it won't work here?
I leave you with this. Last night, Matt and I drove up to Sarasota and took his mom to the candlelight vigil in honor of the Orlando victims. One of those victims was Eddie Sotomayer, a Sarasotan himself. The vigil was a balm on aching hearts, and it was a chance for the LGBTQIA community to come together and for their straight allies to show their support.

It was beautiful and moving and poignant and invigorating. But it won't make change. We don't need more hope and prayer. We don't need memes and statistics shared on Facebook, although raising awareness helps. We need legislative change. Please get on board and actually DO SOMETHING.



  1. I agree with you, I'm done with prayers and hopes of change! It is just appalling that after such horrific events all OVER, and especially the Sandy Hook events, there has been no change to the Gun Control policies in this Country! Our fellow human beings need to stop being killed at work, at school, at clubs, at church... there is simply no safe place!

    I read half of the stories of the victims, and couldn't stop crying, I was just in my car having lunch and hearing stories of the victims, and still crying!

    And it is disgusting that the republican Presidential candidate is more concerned on "being right" about terrorist attacks, than on talking REAL GUN Control policy! I hate that man!

    1. I really think Trump is insane. I'm not being funnny, I think he is going nuts.

  2. Yes but policy could make it harder for them to get weapons. It's a key component. Like Ali says, it works in other parts of the world, why not try here? Or hey, instead, let's sit back and do nothing and we will get more of the same.

  3. I wish I could write about this topic but I can't. I have too many nasty things to say. However, I could not sleep last night so instead I wrote to my state Reps and Senators!

  4. Policy doesn't eradicate hate. But we need to get rid of politicians who espouse hate-speech and hateful rhetoric. We also need to stop pretending that the 2nd Amendment protects gun rights for everyone - show me a well-regulated militia in Sunday's shooting - and that policy chance worked WONDERS in Australia and other countries where mass shootings DO NOT HAPPEN.

  5. Agree all the way and you said it way better than I could have. Thank you for reminding us to take action, and that it is the responsibility of every single one of us.

  6. It just makes me shake my head that we are in 2016 and still have these issues! Will there ever come a time where we can all realize we are the same...you take away our skin color, our religion, or sexuality....we are all the same bones underneath everything.

  7. The video that you shared of Robby and Scott is so sweet. I couldn't stop crying, what an incredible proposal.

    I second every single thing you said here. We need to take action and keep the dialog going long after this story falls out of the news cycle.

  8. I think most of the gun massacres in this country were not hatred, although they appeared to be, but rather the acts of mentally ill people. Although I also don't believe that anyone needs access to those types of weapons.

    OTOH, also as a Jewish woman, I am mindful that being able to defend yourself can, indeed, be the difference between life and death. Not that I have ever held a gun or have any desire to do so (my husband is a very different story).

    It's such a complicated issue. I know I won't be voting for Trump, but even if he loses, I have real doubts about whether anything will be done. I don't have answers. It is something I have given a lot of thought to, and yet I do not see what the answer is -- on gun control, on how to stop terrorism, on how to live life without being fearful.

    I am sorry that this touched you so personally -- and for everyone that it touched personally. I wish I had better answers.

    1. While many of the mass shootings in the US were driven by mentally ill individuals and we need to discuss mental health in this country, we cannot ignore that violence of this magnitude is borne of hatred. There is also the issue of male entitlement and the anger that arises when these young men feel they've been slighted in some way, but I can't imagine looking at this list of names - or the children of Sandy Hook, or those killed in San Bernardino - and not seeing hatred.

      I think things won't get done if people keep saying nothing can be done. After their largest mass shooting in 1996, Australia passed sweeping reform laws and they haven't had another mass shooting since then. To say it can't happen here or won't happen here is defeatist and unhelpful. I understand feeling totally at a loss, but we need to keep trying.

      I think the argument that owning guns will allow you to defend yourself is a distracting argument. For one, studies show that the majority of women who attempt to use a person firearm to defend themselves have that same firearm used against them. Guns in the home are a huge problem in domestic violence cases; those women don't end up feeling safer having a gun around. And if we think our personal cache of weapons will defend us from the government if they chose to come at us in some way, we're sadly delusional. There's no way even the most prepared dooms-day-prepper would be able to stand up to the US Army if they came knocking.

      I appreciate that this issue looks complicated, and parts of it truly are, but there are some very simple aspects that should have been addressed ages ago: defining a "well-regulated militia" as explained in the 2nd Amendment; actually comprehensive background checks; waiting periods on certain firearms, especially when buying multiple within a short time span; blocking those on terrorist watch lists and no-fly lists from obtaining any firearms at all; and banning certain high-caliber automatic weapons from the general populace. I don't think any of these things are complicated. But maybe I'lm just too sick of the status quo to bother debating nuance anymore.

    2. I have a big problem when people always blame mass murders on mental illness because it's oh so convenient. Well, obviously someone who goes out and murders people is not mentally well, but saying that all mass murderers are mentally ill is unfair to the millions of people who deal with mental illness every day and where the HUGE majority is not violent, but rather in danger of being the victim of a crime. Also, it does not help the stigma that people who live with mental illness face on a daily basis. We need be really careful about the language that we use around the issues of mass murders and violent crimes.

      Having said that, I agree with all you said in your post, Ali, Sensible gun legislature has proven to work in EVERY other country... why not here!?

    3. I agree, San. Mental illness may be one factor in some mass shootings, but it's not the only factor, and there are millions of people living with mental illness who would NEVER turn to violence.

  9. After a mass shooting in the United Kingdom, they immediately passed legislature to greatly change who could or could not get guns. In the end, they basically took away all non-hunting riffles. Now, over 10 years later, most police officers don't even have guns, only specially trained ones do. They hardly ever have gun violence. People simply don't die of mass shootings there. Although good people don't get their hands on guns, neither do bad people. I would love to see legislature passed that would mirror this type of control. I want to see a day where cops don't need guns... because why would they? No one else has them either. I can't believe, after Newtown, we are still in this same situation. Something certainly can be done... and something must be done.

    Unfortunately, no gun control will bring back those people who died. Thank you for publishing their names. They're stories need to be heard. Hate cannot be tolerated and we absolutely need to stop putting people in office who mask hate as politics. This hit too close to home for every person in the United States. This could have been anyone's friend, brother, sister, or significant other. We need to realize that and do something... now.

  10. That video was amazing and inspiring! Congrats to your brother-in-law and fiance!