Words from Orlando Vigil at Duke

Author name
Nick Antonicci, Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity

My name is Nicholas Antonicci, I use the pronouns he/him/his, and I'm the Director of the Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity here at Duke University.

Yesterday, I woke to the news of tragedy of 50 innocent people killed at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, a gay bar on a night celebrating Latinx people and communities.

I struggle to put feelings and emotions into words, to put pain into soundbites that appease and comfort those around me.

I struggle with balancing immense sadness for the lives lost, with anger at the forces which allowed this to happen and will continue to happen, namely homophobia and transphobia. I balance wanting to care for others, with frustration in the ways many of those who are responding are centering the feelings of heterosexual and cis peoples.

I struggle with Islam being demanded to be held accountable when other religions are not held to the same accountability, and when those folks refuse to they themselves to look inward at the violence they inflict each and every day.

I struggle with calls for blood to be donated, knowing that my own blood, and the blood of those like me, is not good enough and is barred from replenishing the blood that has been spilled from queer and trans folk.

I struggle with Hashtag #prayersforOrlando as if prayer without action has done anything to prevent, or will do anything to stop this from happening again. Prayers alone will not end racism, xenophobia, transphobia or homophobia.

I struggle with the murders of queer and trans folk of color in what seems like every day or every week, whose lives and murders will not be covered or valued the same because their lives were not lost in a mass murder and because it is easier to ignore/erase/or forget one person.

I struggle with constant gun violence and the messages that guns are necessary for protection, and that we need more guns, and being left to wonder protection for who, and safety for who? 

I struggle with media coverage that claims this an attack on America and knowing that many would never claim LGBTQIA+ people or Latinx as Americans themselves, when America regularly and systematically prevents laws, policies and practices to become enacted in order to better and protect those lives. 

I struggle knowing that when tragedy strikes there are those who suffer in silence because the world is not safe for them to come out, and no one knows they are in pain. 

I struggle knowing that this was a nightclub was meant to be a safe place for LGBTQ people and for Latinx people. I struggle knowing that the spaces where we should feel most free, are still dangerous. I struggle knowing that folks who may benefit from these, may no longer seek them out. 

I am thankful to have been surrounded by members of my community today, and to know there will be more moments to share in the comfort of community in the days ahead. Please do find community. Reach out to loved ones. Share love and light. Find comfort in it. Thank you.