Next week marks one year since the mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando; this Saturday in Tampa’s Ybor City, several groups are hosting a memorial for the Pulse victims.
Aaron Munoz is president and founder of Out and Loud Florida.
“Out and Loud is an LGBT or SAGA – which stands for Sexuality And Gender Acceptance – intersectionality organization. So, we focus on reaching out and uplifting people from the margins at the intersections of sexuality and gender, as well as race. So, we’re here to bridge gaps between racial justice conversations and LGBT or SAGA equality conversations. It’s time to stop pretending that those issues exist separately. LGBT people of color are experiencing marginalization in ways that can’t be separated in their own lives and therefore can’t be separated in the conversations for justice. We’re here to raise those conversations and uplift those voices.”
Listen to the full interview here:
And you’re holding a Pulse Memorial. Why are you remembering the Pulse Anniversary about a year after the fact and tell us about where and when that’ll be.
“Well the Pulse Memorial event will be this Saturday, beginning at 5:00 p.m. until sunset. It’ll be held in Centennial Park in Ybor City (1800 East 8th Ave., Tampa). We felt that it was really a duty to the community, here in Tampa, to hold this event. It felt, for me, like a passion-project and a way to bring people together for a day or rather an evening of healing and light and hope for the future. Not necessarily to look back and mourn the tragedy, but, to look forward and remember and honor those that we lost and kind of vow to come together, as a community, as multiple communities, from the Latino and black communities to the Muslim community, to of course, the LGBT community and specifically the trans community.
“It’s time for all of us to come together and work together on issues that affect all of us, in intersectional ways. So, this event was not just about memorializing the tragedy itself, but, uplifting the voices of those communities who were so effected by it.”
What do you think about the progress, in the last year, about things from access to guns to affecting the communities that you were mentioning earlier?
“I think in this past year, the current administration definitely has put our communities in, you know, some absolutely difficult places, but, I do know that we have a staggering issue in the country and particularly in Florida, with commonsense gun regulations and like I said, I’m not necessarily fully versed in that, but, many of the organizations who will be speaking at the event on Saturday, do work in various areas of legislation and education around that issue. We’ll definitely be looking forward to hearing their input on that. But, as I said, the current administration has us all–all of our communities and the intersections therein–you know, kind of on edge about a lot of different things from healthcare and mental healthcare specifically to LGBT equality and inclusion laws all the way on up to gun violence prevention.
“It’s disheartening, admittedly, that so many of these issues have come our way in such an overwhelmingly rapid rate, however, it’s also been the catalyst to mobilize a lot of people, in the Tampa Bay area, to get involved, to become activists when maybe they wouldn’t have considered themselves activists before. It’s motivated former activists, like myself, to become organizers and mobilizers and to really go out there and do something and take direct action and while the Pulse event is not necessarily a protest event, like Out and Loud is well known for, it’s an important moment for our community to come together and heal. Those moments are just as important as the fight, so to speak.”
And finally, a lot of people are familiar with that; a lot of the victims in the Pulse shooting were LGBT, but, there also, there was a large Puerto Rican community that frequented the Pulse night club and so many of the victims were Puerto Rican. What can you say about that and how that ties into your struggle?
“Absolutely. I think it’s very important to acknowledge the demographic of the victims. It was not just a nightclub in Orlando. This was a well-known LGBT nightclub. It was a Friday night, which was the well-known Latin night and these communities are often targeted for very specific reasons and the Pulse tragedy really is a prime example of how the intersections of race and sexuality and gender have a serious effect on the communities they’re in and the overlapping communities they’re in. The Latino and black LGBT communities are dealing with different kinds of marginalization that hetero-, cis-hetero-, people of color and that white LGBT folks are not necessarily experiencing and it’s important to discuss those intersections, discuss how they effect each other and discuss how each of those communities can come together to uplift those who are in those overlapping margins.”
Well, great. I really appreciate your time today. Thanks so much.
“Absolutely. Thank you for having me.”
There is also a St. Pete Pulse memorial scheduled for Monday at Enigma St. Pete, 1110 Central Ave. from 9:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.