We Are Orlando by niv Acosta

 ”Orlando is a queer AND racial issue AFTER a gun control, Islamophobia, and mental health issue.”

Part of the We Are Orlando series.

Niv Acosta Bomb 1

DJ Oscar Nñ (PAPI JUICE) at an Orlando shooting fundraiser, C’Mon Everybody, Brooklyn, June 19, 2016. Photo by Antwaun Sargent.

Orlando
where is the lie

 

first i would like to acknowledge that i am one of two artists of color who was invited to contribute on a story about the mass shooting of a club full of Queer and Transgender people of color (QTPOC)…

i was traveling while black recently in three different cities, London, Hamburg, and Berlin, when i logged onto social media and realized yet another instance of gun violence had occurred in Amerikkka. normally i scroll endlessly until i’ve scraped together the entire story and subsequent op-ed’s that follow to craft a robust and informed post regarding the issue, but this time was different. facebook widget wiggled and cleared.

i deleted the social media apps and kept being black in germany, which is in itself is a laborious task. i convinced myself i had already too much grief to work through by simply existing in the country. opening the floodgates of mourning more queer death made me fear that i might not be able to function for the work i was there to do.

my final day there was when i allowed it, and i wrote this post:

 

‪#‎orlando queers of color my heart was yanked and stretched to hear the news. i can’t even begin to mourn because i’ve never stopped from the countless instances of senseless violence. violence that has happened to me/my community on many levels, which made the news that much more painful. it could have been me, my loved ones, my happy overworked queer fam just tryna live through this struggle through movement and shared space.

all i can feel is confused.

all i can feel is panicked.

all i can feel is angry.

all i can feel is time to delete facebook from my phone.

all i can feel is my chosen fam flinching at this pain.

all i can feel is the lack of language and compassion from non-queer people/white queer people alike and the gap in understanding how deep this ish goes.

all i can feel is confused by the messages i’m receiving which are meant to be love and check-in’s but coming at a time that feels fraught. i’ve needed you sooner. sooner than a mass shooting. sooner than the next time a trans person dies from hate. next time a queer person of color dies from hate. hold me close always, never conditionally. hold US close always, never conditionally. get to know me/us. find out what you can do to make me/us feel safe and do it.

‪#‎knowournames

we still ‪#‎alive


i feel this writing only covers one small superficial portion of my feelings. really i’d rather centralize that QTPOC have encountered so much loss and pain while you’ve been waiting for pride season to acknowledge it. we as a “community,” need to hold that Orlando is a queer AND racial issue AFTER a gun control, Islamophobia, and mental health issue.

we can never compare the oppression that QTPOC face to that of white queers because it lacks the intersection, which holds why QTPOC make up 80% of victims in hate crimes. if you want to mourn the deaths of the Orlando victims, you have to also realize what else impacts the lives of QTPOC.

here’s a list of what regularly plagues queers of color: prison industrial complex, Islamophobia and obsession with terrorism, Muslim QTPOC erasure, daily micro to fatal aggressions, mass media demonization, transphobic and homophobic policies, lack of positive (or any) representation = erasure, white/light skin beauty fascism, lack of mental health support, lack of family support, lack of disability services, dissonance among varied generations in QTPOC communities, languages barriers, comprehensive health care, access to employment, safe housing, education, safe transportation, childcare, isolation, unknown historical narratives, a complicit ignorance these oppressions exist, and the list grows everyday.

to see the diversity in how the people in my feed are responding to this event has brought a brighter light to what we all prioritize. it’s pride season so everyone’s tuned in, but what about the other 11 months out the year when you have not messaged your QTPOC fam about their mental health and their needs because you can only see our oppression when our name is paired with RIP.

 

This is the fourth in a series of five artist responses to the Pulse nightclub shooting on June 12, 2016.

niv Acosta is an artist and activist based in Brooklyn. His intersectional identities as transgender, queer, and Dominican of Haitian descent have continuously inspired his community based work. niv’s has been featured in many publications including Performance Journal, VICE, Brooklyn Magazine, and Apogee Journal. His performance work has debuted in various spaces nationally and abroad including Kunst-Werke Institut, The David Roberts Foundation, The Kimmel Center, Human Resources, MOMA PS1, the Studio Museum in Harlem, and the New Museum, among others. His current project, DISCOTROPIC, is episodic and premiered as a part of the New Museum’s “Triennial Surround Audience 2015,” the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Art’s “Brooklyn Soul Festival Black August,” Cooper Union, aBlock Universe in London, and Tanz Im August in Berlin. Parallel to his artistic practice, his work in racial justice has provided trainings for cultural producers at KW Institute, NYU, and Vassar College.

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