Orlando’s Gay Latino Community Reeling From Killings

orlando victims 2016 pulse nighclub

Lives Taken – Dreams Shattered

It’s hard to not notice the names of so many who were taken from us at the Pulse Nightclub massacre in Orlando.  Just a quick glance: Sotomayor, Velazquez, Guerrero, Rivera, Martinez, Perez. And while the wounds are still fresh across the collective LGBTQ world, we must also remember that the Latino community, particularly in Orlando, is also reeling.

“We are devastated,” said Sami Haiman-Marrero, an Orlando businesswoman who was interviewed by The Washington Post. She is also an activist for Latinos. “We are heartbroken.”

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It remains unclear whether the gunman in Sunday’s rampage — which killed 49 people enjoying “Latin Night” at a popular gay nightclub — was targeting gays, Latinos, Americans or any specific group.

We do know that regardless of intent, the impact was devastating on a quickly growing community that accounts for nearly 30% of the population of Orange County, where the city of Orlando is located.

“More than 90 percent of the victims are Latino, so we are really trying to come together for them,” said Haiman-Marrero to the Post. She has helped organize Somos Orlando, an umbrella group approximately two dozen Latino organizations formed within hours of the massacre to help provide bilingual grief counseling, housing and other support for affected families.

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According to the Washington Post, “Florida has the third-largest Hispanic population in the country: While Hispanics make up 17 percent of the national population, it’s 24 percent in Florida, and rising fast, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. So an attack on Latinos here ripples into every corner of the local economy and culture.”

Many of the victims were Puerto Rican, which makes up the largest swath of the Latino community in Orlando. What many may not know is that a large number of Puerto Ricans have moved to the Orlando area in recent years because of an economic crisis back home.

They have been coming to there specifically for the chance to work and to be with existing family members. It is a community that continues to grow with each passing year.

As we grieve for our fallen brothers and sisters and continue to support those who are injured, we must also remember that the Latino community has been hit hard by this tragedy.

The website Queerty has a really nice memorial page that we have linked to as a way of remembering all who we lost in this senseless killing. And Gay Pop Buzz will continue to report on the victims and survivors – and all who were impacted.