Over at Voluble, a Los Angeles Review of Books (LARB) channel, there’s a new project in the works. Home movies filmed at queer bars run alongside LGBTQ artists in a feature called The Joy of Coloring.
“On June 12, 2016 a man entered PULSE, a gay nightclub in Orlando Florida and used a SIG Sauer MCX semi-automatic rifle and a 9mm Glock 17 semi-automatic pistol to murder 49 people and wound 53 others. The club was hosting Latin Night. The vast majority of victims were Puerto Rican and Latin@. This was the largest massacre of LGBTQ people in U.S. history. It continues a seemingly relentless wave of gun violence in the U.S. It is part of a tapestry of year that included significant legislation against LGBTQ people in the United States of America.
My original impulse was to immediately “do something”. I asked people on Facebook to find their nearest gay bar and go read a poem in front of it. We got these gorgeous homemade films. I didn’t ask folks to identify whether they were LGBTQ or not. I think everyone should know where their nearest gay bar is.” –-Gabrielle Calvocoressi from the introduction to the project
The night of the slaughter of Latin@ and Puerto Ricans at Pulse, Vancouver held a vigil at the Art Gallery. Afterwards, my friend Donna Dykeman and I stood in front of The Fountainhead and I read an excerpt from GOING SANTA FE, a chapbook of mine published in 1997–nearly twenty years ago–while she filmed me. It was very dark and noisy on the street and we only had my iPhone. I was crying while I read. Standing outside a bar, a bar like Pulse, a bar that could have been Pulse, drove home the horror. Like everyone else, I longed for us to be able to lift the victims into our arms and breathe their lives back into them. Now all I can do is look at their photographs and speak the victims’ names again and again and again.
Never forget. Never forget. Never forget.