A Pulse Epilogue

I wrote this essay in the days following the Pulse Tragedy, which struck the heart of my community a year ago. I was unable to post it before now. It was just too soon.

Bloody Sunday. Shout the headlines.
Blood Donors. Snake around the block throughout town.
Blood Everywhere. Survivors repeat, over and over.

Pulse. The nightclub where brothers and sisters gathered, celebrating their latin culture & authentic selves. A safe haven for many, even inside a highly inclusive and prideful community that embraces queer culture… indeed is BUILT by many in the LGBTQ community. The subculture is often hard to distinguish from the larger community downtown that openly accepts love in all it’s variety.

But we in Orlando know all too well that not everyone in the world accepts the spectrum of natural expression as normal.

We have rallied alongside Brian Feldman, who married a stranger (picked via “spin-the-bottle”) at the courthouse to prove the absurdness of marriage laws where a man could enter into a loveless union with a woman, but true love between gay or lesbian couples was denied.

We’ve stood linked in arms every Valentines Day at the Human Heart Love In to stand up for love.

Then, miraculously, thanks be to the tireless work of the best Equality Activist in the nation: Love Won. Marriage Equality finally came to Florida and our nation.

LOVE WON.

It was done. The future had arrived.

The Sunday massacre targeted the literal and figurative Pulse of Orlando. Over a hundred people were shot and bled – 49 of them lost forever – while dancing joyously in their safest haven. This is a very local and immediate tragedy, but the bullets also left holes in our new collective reality post-marriage equality that Love is Love is Love.

The Pulse massacre was a metaphorical but massive heart attack for Orlando, which is centrally situated as the energetic heart chakra of Florida. If you zoomed in on a map and drew a heart around the core of Orlando, the Pulse nightclub (now a memorial) would be at the southern pinnacle.

Those who live in this community know that the major arteries leading into Orlando’s heart have been blocked and congested with major construction causing accident after accident. Pressure has been building in this town and this country.

Words cast spells – that is why it is called spell-ing.

The political vitriol against latin cultures, the continuing terrorism of homophobics targeting trans bathroom rights, the overt and unapologetic misogyny.

Orlando had a smaller, warning heart attack on Friday night pre-Pulse when a “lone wolf” killed The Voice songstress Christina Grimmie at the Plaza Theater, also at the core of Orlando. We don’t need an official to explain that toxic masculinity is clearly the culprit. The not-too-subtle symbology of a young woman’s “voice” being taken in cold blood has not been missed by any woman who has been paying attention.

Pulse. On the eve of the Pulse attack, at another LGBTQ friendly venue at the core of Orlando, a local band, Chakra Khan, was releasing their debut album just before midnight. To a packed house filled with joy, Alexandra Love & Divinci (members of Soliliquist of Sound) performed a song titled “Pulse” for the very first time. The lyrics are haunting in retrospect, hard medicine to swallow. Pulse, the song, begins:

We’re putting out the call
The war outside is false
It echoes from within
Presents itself again.

Orlando is a town of illusions: the world knows us for the fantasy land to the west of town. The lesser known shadow side lies in the quiet bomb building and virtual reality war simulation programming rumored to be hiding under the cover of “video game” production to the east. Our tourist industry likes to keep this low profile and, quiet frankly, those of us who live here ignore it too. Secrets abound in the long shadow of the mouse.

The war outside is false
It echoes from within

These are not “lone wolves.” These are over-entitled men assaulting the lives of those dancing in joy & love itself.

These are not “lone wolves.” These are every person who designs bombs and arms right here in our community.

These are not “lone wolves.” These are every video game & virtual reality worker involved in programming war scenarios and objectifying the feminine through the male gaze.

These are not “lone wolves.” These are members in our entertainment complex that have written a narrative for decades that glorifies an idealized image of perfection, who have promoted a hetero-normative, hyper-sexual culture of commodification, objectification and exploitation through their fairy tales and movies that pits women against women and look to men with weapons to save us from other men.

These are not “lone wolves.” These are a large majority of our obstructionist politicians & citizens who refuse to enact sane gun control. Who refuse to be allies to our LGBTQ brothers and sisters. Who slaughter bears with glee.

These are not “lone wolves.” These are members of nowhere-near-Christ-like Radicalized “Christians” sitting in certain so-called churches throughout the Orlando and the US, who refuse to welcome and celebrate all of God’s children as they are and promote conversion therapy.

These are not “lone wolves.” The wild and beautiful wolf does not conceive to commit such atrocities. Only a thoroughly broken and domesticated man conditioned in a culture of toxic masculinity is capable of committing such crimes against the heart of humanity. A man who believes his worth and definition of success is proving how much he can “power over” instead of “partner with.”

And yet, centrally located, at the core of Orlando, a very different Orlando has been weaving together for years away from the fantasy tourists attractions and secretive war industries. Authentic Orlando, REAL Orlando, where a community of care & creativity has emerged shooting not bullets, but rays of light & love….a rainbow beaming from the core of Orlando, the heart of our city and state.

Love is at the Core. This is the title track of Chakra Khan’s debut album. The entire album is an eerie but timely medicine in the wake of this tragedy.

We in this community know the delusionial fantasies born from this spot – we’ve got the best activists in the country raising a ruckus to make sure it’s known. While we’ve been taking a stand, we’ve also been busy cultivating REAL LOVE … this moment allowed the rest of the world a chance to get to know our community the way we do.

Let us heed the prophetic lyrics of Pulse:

We’re putting out the call
The war outside is false
It echoes from within
Presents itself again.

This week, it presented itself again. Chakra Khan released a new album last weekend and the next day we woke to the London attack and toxic masculinity presented itself again at Fiamma on Forsyth right here in Orlando.

 

For those whose hearts are grieving and need support with post-traumatic stress, please look to this incredible local resource, The Grief Care Project by the Florida School of Holistic Living. 

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