remembering orlando

one year later...

How do I begin to talk about Orlando? Or about this last year? It hasn’t been an easy one. It has been a year of waking up in the challenge, a year of marching and leaning forward enough to maintain momentum. No longer necessary to seek the journey, it has rushed into our faces. We must become the journey if we want to go forward in this political climate. We must embody our path.

So to speak of Orlando is to speak of self. And as a queer Chicana when I speak of self I must also speak of love. I must carry my own supply, because this world has little for me. Orlando made that clear, again.

And my love, even my self love, I know is not mine, but part of the greater flow. As I love my self, I send love to the families. As I love my self, I send love to the lost. As I love my self, I change the world in which a massacre like the one at Pulse can happen.

I must hold self love up high enough to see through the lies of this land and keep my self alive, embodied.
Moving forward.
This is the revolution.
This is the epitome of being queer to me.

Creativity has always been my modes operandi. When the going gets tough and the going is definitely  tough, the creative start making art! The portraits of those lost are most moving. They serve not only as a memorial, but also as an act of respect. Art is a way to commune with a subject. As artists, we take them in and then express out how they move us. They literally move through us. Through our eyes, our heart and finally out our hands onto the canvas or page. Artists re-embody their subjects through themselves. And again I come to love.

The more we love ourselves, the more we express love through everything we create, the more creativity is an act of love both self and communal. Self. Community. Creativity. Love. This is life to me. This is political. Our creativity is within to heal us and those around us. That’s why it’s suppressed.

To unleash our creative power is one of the strongest acts of self love there is.

In April, I spontaneously began writing my first YA novella, Ma Llorona. It hit hard and fast. Unexpected, even disruptive. I got the main body of it but eventually learned that what I thought I knew I didn’t. Numerous times I thought it was ready for final edits, but as I do with my creative work, I prayed into it instead of looking for closure. I asked for insight and healing every step of the way, especially since I had never done anything like this before. And in perfect order, my creative prayers delivered again and again and the story expanded, deepened, healed more and more of me. I didn’t know how much of me would be held or healed by this story. I didn’t know that I had the ability to let something like this pass through me. I’m still rattled, still a bit shaky.

By the time the manuscript was complete, and I’ll be honest I’m still on final edits, Orlando had become part of the story. It wasn’t my initial intention. It was a deeper, intuitive healing. The kind that sneaks up on you because it’s so deep it can’t be consciously courted. As I worked through the timeline with the calendar I realized that Orlando occurred at a key moment. It was there, embedded in the story already, waiting to be included. When I looked at why it would be there, it fit perfectly. It made sense. It was only a matter of me opening my eyes and accepting it.

So today as I actively work on completing and submitting the second proof to my printer, as I love my self and send deep love to the families and those lost in Orlando, I howl out to our ancestors and I howl into the power of creativity to heal us through these times.


 The ancient river ghost, La Llorona guides me to speak however messy, to step forward however clumsy, to lean into my own ghosts both personal and ancient and find a way through the shadows.

I reclaim La Llorona as an indigenous, queer, MesoAmerican reflection. She is ours now. She belongs to us queers. We need her to howl with us, to teach us about grief. But more than one ghost, I claim all of our ghosts. I claim all of our stories as valuable, all of our history as necessary, I call out all the healing waiting to be unleashed through the power of our voices. As queer Latinx/Chicanx we can heal. We can change the world. We can paint, write, express. With love we can re-embody and transform this world. It’s ours. I claim this world as queer. Now.

It makes sense that Orlando is a part of Ma Llorona. Orlando is very deep for us as queer Latinx/Chicanx. It is part of our story now. It is ours to heal. It is ours to see that it rides not only on the moment it happened, but on everything that led to that moment. From MesoAmerica to Mexico City to San Francisco to Orlando, the ghosts are calling.

Tonight, like last year we will gather in the Castro and fill the sky with our love, and our grief. We will stand with the ghosts and we will tell their stories. Our stories.

Tonight, we will change the world, the way queers always do.
By loving ourselves and using our voices.

Tonight we stand with Orlando.

Blessings OUT on this one year anniversary. Queer Eternal.

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