Saturday night at Pulse nightclub in Downtown Orlando was Latin night. Latin music and culture in this country have always been about bringing people together. Latinos celebrate our diversity within the community, and welcome those who want to learn and be a part of it. We are the very definition of inclusion. I lived and studied in Orlando for three years. First at the University of Central Florida and then at Full Sail University. I worked at Disney World, oddly enough at the Hall of Presidents. I remember “Gay Day” at Disney. It wasn’t an official event, however Disney was LGBT friendly at a time when the LGBT community was not necessarily welcomed, especially in smaller cities in conservative Central Florida. This was back in the late '80s. When the AIDS epidemic was in full swing. Members of the LGBT communities were marginalized. Latinos were a growing but still relatively quiet minority. Things have changed for both communities.
Lady Gaga Reads Names of Orlando Victims During L.A. Vigil
On the one hand, the outpouring from everyone, regardless of creed, color, nationality, religious background or sexual orientation is very inspiring and uplifting. The fact is that we look at this as an attack on all of us, worldwide, and not just Latinos, not just members of the LGBT community. It's a very real and significant step forward.
As part of the music industry though, I feel a little perplexed about the lack of action time and time again when dealing with issues of mental health, public safety and guns. Back in April, a litany of artists stood up when North Carolina passed their “bathroom” law discriminating against transgender individuals. Where is the outrage, call to action, boycotts from the artistic community towards communities who continue to do nothing to curtail gun violence? Are we only worried about discrimination? Are we not as concerned by the indiscriminate killing of these individuals? Do we believe that nothing can be done?
As an artistic community we have to stop “praying for” cities that have been affected by tragedies, and start proactively mobilizing the millions of young people who we have access to in order to affect change. I’m frankly surprised and disappointed with how newer artists simply conform to the media outlets and don’t challenge them. Artists don’t need to be political to get a message out. U2, The Police, Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder, Madonna, Billy Joel. These were not political artists. But they spoke of the issues of the day in their songs. “Born in the USA”, “You’re Only Human”, “Higher Ground”, “Driven to Tears”, “Bullet the Blue Sky”, “Papa Don’t Preach”. They dealt with war, suicide, abortion, famine… They were the biggest pop artists of their day, and they knew that their music could affect change, and it did.
Christina Grimmie's Brother Delivers Emotional Speech For Orlando Shooting Victims at Candlelight Vigil
One year ago, Congress barred the CDC from researching gun violence. Think about that. Congress and the gun lobby doesn’t even want us to be educated about the causes, effects, or solutions to a problem that takes the lives of more than 30,000 U.S. citizens a year!
The day after singer Christina Grimmie was gunned down by a fan in the same city, we mourn 49 more lives. Many of them members of two very vibrant communities. Let’s celebrate their lives through the music they loved. Music will always be stronger than a gun, music will always conquer hate. But the message needs to be delivered by us. We have to stand up, speak out, and hold not just the individuals who spew hate and pull the trigger accountable, but those who help facilitate it as well. If we stay silent, we are complicit.
- Edward Sotomayor Jr., age 34
- Stanley Almodovar III, 23 years old
- Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20 years old
- Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22 years old
- Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36 years old
- Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22 years old
- Luis S. Vielma, 22 years old
- Kimberly Morris, 37 years old
- Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30 years old
- Darryl Roman Burt II, 29 years old
- Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32 years old
- Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21 years old
- Anthony Luis Laureanodisla, 25 years old
- Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35 years old
- Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, 50 years old
- Amanda Alvear, 25 years old
- Martin Benitez Torres, 33 years old
- Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37 years old
- Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26 years old
- Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35 years old
- Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25 years old
- Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, 31 years old
- Oscar A Aracena-Montero, 26 years old
- Enrique L. Rios, Jr., 25 years old
- Miguel Angel Honorato, 30 years old
- Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40 years old
- Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32 years old
- Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19 years old
- Cory James Connell, 21 years old
- Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37 years old
- Luis Daniel Conde, 39 years old
- Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33 years old
- Juan Chevez-Martinez, 25 years old
- Jerald Arthur Wright, 31 years old
- Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25 years old
- Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25 years old
- Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, 24 years old
- Jean C. Nives Rodriguez, 27 years old
- Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33 years old
- Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, 49 years old
- Yilmary Rodriguez Sulivan, 24 years old
- Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32 years old
- Angel L. Candelario-Padro, 28 years old
- Frank Hernandez, 27 years old
- Paul Terrell Henry, 41 years old
- Antonio Davon Brown, 29 years old
- Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz, 24 years old
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