Pulse: Finding Meaning in a Massacre Through Gay Latinx Intersectional Justice

19 Scholar 1 (2017)

56 Pages Posted: 22 Sep 2016 Last revised: 8 Jul 2021

Date Written: September 20, 2016


In the early morning hours of June 12, 2016, a hate-filled man calmly opened fire on the patrons of the Pulse nightclub in downtown Orlando, Florida. Over the next three hours, he killed 49 men and women who had been celebrating Latin Night at the gay club. Fifty-three persons were wounded. The Orlando community, if not the world, was shaken to the core by the worst mass shooting in our nation’s history. As we mourned in Orlando, we also leapt into action, made contributions to families and survivors, grabbed onto community as a life raft, and struggled to find meaning in this massacre.

To honor the victims and survivors of Pulse, this article offers a critical inquiry into violent hate crimes as well as a constructive vision of the predicates for intersectional justice. As its point of departure, the article asks two questions: why a gay nightclub and why Latin Night? The answers to those questions are revelatory. At the intersection of the gay and Latinx communities is the unfinished business of remedying historic subordination and dismantling divisions constructed of fear, hatred, and privilege. From this perspective, the article critiques interstructured systems of subordination – particularly those burdening sexuality, gender identity, race, and ethnicity – that make hate crimes like Pulse possible.

From a constructive perspective, the article suggests that, just as forms of oppression are related, so are forms of justice. The Pulse massacre pierced the conscience of the community and illustrated ways relationships of respect can form in a heterogenous public. Drawing its inspiration from the victims and survivors of the massacre, the article recommends predicates for social healing, necessary political action for immigration reform and LGBTQ legal protections, and forms of remembrance that celebrate intersectional justice.

Keywords: Pulse, LGBT, sexuality, gender identity, transgender, Latino, Latinx, intersectional, interstructured, FemCrit, LatCrit, QueerCrit, subordination, hate crimes, terrorism, immigration, RFRA, municipal preemption

JEL Classification: K00, K10, K19, K30, K37, K39, K40, K42, K49

Suggested Citation

Koons, Judith E., Pulse: Finding Meaning in a Massacre Through Gay Latinx Intersectional Justice (September 20, 2016). 19 Scholar 1 (2017), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2841534

Judith E. Koons (Contact Author)

Barry University School of Law ( email )

6441 E. Colonial Dr.
Orlando, FL 32807
United States

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