You Can Not Kill Our Pulse: Reflections on Orlando and Los Angeles

photo courtesy of C. Flemming


"you can not kill our pulse"

The sheets were immaculate and chilly to the touch, quite the contrast to the persistent California sun gnawing at the window panes all around my temperamentally content body. In retrospect, the immense heat attempting to seep into the room, was possibly some sort of messenger heralding the horrific events which had occurred a coast away, earlier in the morn.  

A shooter in Orlando, Florida, has rampaged a venue, where fellowship and love were marking the air on a crisp summer evening. The venue was a known space for queer expression and a safety only enriching community can provide. However, early in the morning of June 12, individual atoms, life sources which waited thousands of years to compile into a human figure, were slaughtered in the name of differences.

Across the country in Los Angeles, California, I was attending the Colin Higgins Youth Courage Award honorarium ceremonies. The evening before Orlando, I was at Chateau Marmont with two exceptional souls and three dozen amazing guests; honoring the labor of three individuals who have fought for their voices to be heard amidst such global silence.  The atmosphere was unlike any I have ever been fortunate to experience. The candlelight reflected the silhouettes of a supportive community, a loving room, an enrichment of souls confined within four beautiful walls. Warm embraces, authentic humanness, and complete tranquillity were tangible entities within our small gathering. Even the moonlight washing into the room, stood in awe of the intimacy radiating from the hearts here.

Our communal pulse was vibrant, it was alive, and it will not be taken from us.

After returning to my room that evening, I reminisced about my feet's first experience with sea water's kiss earlier that day. The views of Santa Monica from the Pier's Ferris Wheel, and the divine dishes I devoured for the first time at Musso and Frank on Hollywood Blvd. These memories of feeling as though I was finally living free from the shackles of normality and discrimination, peacefully plunged me into a deep and rejuvenating sleep. Sadly, my sleep of balance was arisen from with nothing but heartbreak and hollowness.

Forty plus individuals have lost their lives, the number is climbing; there is blood, there are bodies, there is emptiness, there is loss.

Breakfast that morning was quiet.

"Will we still march? They are saying Los Angeles may be a target now. A terrorist group has taken 'responsibility' for Orlando" - as though these actions are ones to be proud of. As the parade and festivities were beginning, a large presence of police and S.W.A.T. teams became apparent. Alerts were sent out, "a man has been arrested blocks away in Santa Monica with firearms and explosives", later he stated he "wanted to harm the gay community".
"Should you bow this one out? You are all so young, someone has children to think about. They have families to return to."

All of us marched. We marched for the slaughtered, the left behind, the dying, the forgotten, the youth, the elderly, the straight, and the queers among us. We marched for humanity, for common ground, for visibility; to make it clear that guns and violence will never silence the pulse which beats through the crowd gathered in Los Angeles, Orlando, those mourning around the globe, and the little queer boy/girl in small town Nebraska who needs to know that they are valid as a human being.

Accompanied with two utterly extraordinary individuals, we rode through the streets of Hollywood. Sunflowers, a symbol of life and renewal, were scattered intentionally along the vehicle's edges. The presence of Colin Higgins was undeniably palpable, but he was not with us alone. His spectator of authentic and loving energy was accompanied by thousands;

Every trans* woman of color murdered
Every trans* individual murdered
Every queer individual murdered
Every ally murdered
Every individual who has stepped into the other side, because the pain this world inflicts is much heavier than it should be.
49 individuals who were martyrs in Orlando on June 12, 2016. 53 individuals who were injured and are fighting to remain with us.
Countless individuals who bravely fought to save their friends, loved ones, and families in Orlando.
They all marched with us. Their pulses were present. They were not silenced.
We are not silent.

During the parade, I held a sign regarding Orlando and venerating those who departed as marching with us in spirit. My fellow honorees held signs commenting on social ills towards Queer People of Color, and the detrimental demanding of assimilation in American culture. The message each of us brought into the Hollywood streets, was greater than the threat of death, it was the veneration of human beings and the call to validating our living within diverse, yet unified cultures.


In the center of the parade path, there was a small group of men with signs of flames and scripture passages. The words they uttered are not even worth repeating, however they made references to Orlando, diseases, and how they were here to "save our souls".


I ask you, how does one save another through shattering their feet? By ripping their limbs from their body, leaving them laying in the gutter; mangled, bruised, and bleeding out. How can one spew arrows, dipped in the blood of a god's message this world has manipulated, and pierce the hearts of a mourning community? I pray for you gentlemen, that one day you find the humanness in your hearts and venerate all human life.

We mourn. We pray. We meditate. We remember. Our pulse continues to beat.  Their pulses continue to beat.

I pray for the souls in Orlando.

For those who lost friends, multiple friends, or lost ones they loved.

Please know their pulses beat on. The carbon in their bones, will continue to replenish this unforgiving world. You will hear their voices in the breeze, in the candlelight of a peaceful room, and in the kiss of the ocean's rhythm. 

The universal heartbeat of divine order has not forgotten them. They will continue on.

I pray for the thousands of queer martyrs throughout human history. 

Their sacrifices, their resolution. Their eternal pulses. 

I pray for the soul of the shooter. 

That he learns the language of love and respect wherever he is in the greater cosmos. 

I pray for this world. 

Remember we have been converted from the same ancient record of carbon and stardust. We are a collective human ancestry, and our life sources are intertwined at all tendons.

I invite you to join hands with the queer community here in America.

The communities abroad.

And within your very hearts.

Only through remembrance, the rejection of fear, and authentic living can we uphold the values of humankind.