Sat Jul 13, 2024
July 13, 2024

Orlando massacre: a blood-stained rainbow

In 16 days we will be celebrating 47 years of the Stonewall Rebellion, a symbol and landmark of the fight against LGBT-phobia and of the organization of LGBT movements. It is no surprise that the biggest massacre ever of this kind in the United States occurred in a premise frequented by LGBT people. In addition, a Latino night was happening in the Pulse nightclub. Consequently, the vast majority of the identified dead is formed by Latinos, a sector whose oppression is historical in the US. The tragic deaths when crossing the border are evidence of that.

By Wilson G. Silva.


On Monday, 13, the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks. Nevertheless, it is not only the IS that all this hatred policy comes from. The already well-known criminal, murderer and oppressor fundamentalist regime of the Islamic State, which the Syrians unfortunately know closely, met a LGBT-phobic and xenophobic man, who said he was disgusted and assaulted by witnessing a kiss between gay men: a perfect partnership for another genocide motivated by the hatred of difference, the horror to diversity and the fear that each and all have the right to live freely.

We know that the 50 dead and 53 injured people in Orlando have a tragic and impressive dimension. However, we also know that it will unfortunately “just” speed the macabre figures that siege the lives of LGBT people: the death toll per day.

Brazil is the top country of transvestites and transsexuals murders in the world. Between January 2008 and March 2014, 604 deaths were recorded in the country, according to a survey of the NGO Transgender Europe (TGEU). Only in 2012, 3084 complaints of violence against LGBTs were made to Dial 100. As stated by the GGB, 326 murders happened in 2014 in Brazil. One of us falls every 27 hours in this non-declared war. In the case of black people, the data is even more macabre: one every 23 minutes.

In the US, the barbarism that we saw also echoes on a daily basis. In 2014, there were 1,017 attacks against LGBT people (18.6% of hate crimes). Murder, persecution, death sentences, torture, corrective rape and similar horrors around the world make that the young men and women who lost their lives so violently, terrifying and unacceptably in Orlando join countless others who suffered as many as such horrors.

And it happens since a long time. We were burnt in the fires of the Middle Ages. We were make dead to the world through lobotomies and a perverse psychiatry in the 19th century. We were imprisoned and enforced to forced labor, either in Britain of Oscar Wilde or in Cuba of Reinaldo Arenas. We were marked with pink triangles in Nazi concentration camps. We were hunted like medieval witches by McCarthyism etc.

But we fightback and organize. “We survived and will survive.” That’s what scares fundamentalists from any religion, the Bolsonaros, Cunhas, [1] Trumps, Le Pens and all these scoundrels. It is possible that many people interpret the Orlando massacre as another sign of the advance of these white, apparently straight and male claws over the world.

It is actually more a symptom of the disease that spreads around the world fueled by greed of the 1% well off. Undeniably, what happened in Orlando causes a revolt and indignation that require immediate responses and further urgent action so that things like this do not happen again.

I say more: if it depends on them, I believe that such horror scenes tend to intensify. Not because the right and the conservatives are trampling on a relentless march or have more and more visible watchdogs. The stench of barbarism that blew out from Orlando and comes to us is proof that the situation is serious.

But if it depends on them, as I said. And this is nothing new. It is the essence of the history of the bourgeoisie. The crime of slavery, the telemarketing cubicles crowded of invisible LGBTs, blacks and women behind the voice on the phone, the housemaid’s slave-like bedroom, the double or triple working-day, millions of outsourced and precarious workers without rights and hunger wages etc. They are cruel evidence of how the bourgeoisie ever know that, to profit more, they have to oppress even more.

Pushed by the economic crisis and unyielding in the mood to make the poor pay for it, overexploiting those who are historically more vulnerable, the scoundrels encourage the division of society, especially of the working class, imposing racial, gender, sexual orientation borders etc., knowing how much it contributes to undermine our struggles and weaken the unity between oppressed and exploited. They try to build in the people’s heads the same walls and barbed wire fences that shame Europe borders (or US border) trying to stop the biggest wave of immigrants and refugees since World War II.

Therefore, as Marx wrote in 1870 in relation to racism and xenophobia in England, the bourgeoisie, even the one that claims to be democratic, spare no efforts or means to feed and contaminate hearts and souls of young people, workers, women, black people with prejudices, discrimination, etc.; with an antagonism that “This antagonism is artificially kept alive and intensified by the press, the pulpit, the comic papers, in short, by all the means at the disposal of the ruling classes. This antagonism is the secret of the impotence of the English working class, despite its organisation. It is the secret by which the capitalist class maintains its power. And the latter is quite aware of this.”

It is this secret – not to mention the direct action of the forces of repression in all their forms, including the paramilitary, militia etc. – that grows guys like the Orlando one. Needless to say, the form of that slaughter is unfortunately typical of the ailing US society. However, his abominable and unforgivable act is rooted in the rottenness of a degenerate capitalist system that generates excrescences as the Islamic State, US white supremacists, the kidnappers and rapists of children as Boko Haram in Nigeria.

This is only the tip of the polarization that increasingly intensely features the world. We learned how to fight and resist a long time ago. We carry in our blood – the same red blood that, with sickening frequency, gushes in dark alleys, in the attacked nightclubs, in poorly lit corners – the bold pioneerism of Magnus Hirschfeld, who created the Scientific Humanitarian Committee in 1897 to fight the Paragraph 175 of the German Constitution, which criminalized homosexuality.

We carry in our veins Oscar Wilde’s courage, who clung to his dignity and poetry even when arrested. We carry the glamorous ferocity of the dazzling Madame Satan. [2] We carry the claws of Angela Davis. We are as obstinate as Sappho. We follow the cycle that transcends the genres of Oxumaré [4]. We have the willingness to struggle and the awareness of the black transsexual Marsha P. Johnson, who was in the front line of Stonewall. We have the creative explosion of the genius Paulette from Dzi Croquettes [5] and the audacity, even if surrounded by pain and melancholy, of the pioneers of jazz and blues ‘Ma’ Rainey and Bessie Smith.

We’ve had enough. Thinking of Orlando, we become furious, angry, sad. But unfortunately, in the pettiness of capitalism, these feelings are just part of who we are, of living as we live, and in the way we want to be. But there is something our tormentors do not count on or always try to suppress and stifle: we don’t bow down before the enemy.

We are not willing to return to the ghettos. We will not live in fear. We do not want “gay healing.” Incidentally, we can’t be changed: we are so strong that no virus can exterminate us. And no, neither bullets or bombs will do it.

The reactions to the massacre around the world show that we are strong and are not alone. Women, as we can see in Brazil, took to the streets, defy patriarchy that wants them “beautiful, demure and as housewives”, [2] face male-chauvinism that leads to rape and sexual harassment. Black men and women, especially, make the outskirts of the big cities boil in angry every time one of them is murdered. Afro-Americans take to the streets to remind anyone that black lives matter. They raise their fists as Panthers, release their curled hair as if they would break chains and resume the winding thread of our history, they stretch their black hair with forks, uniting and intertwining the strands and shout out loud: Black Power!

We know it is possible and necessary to join the working class to change the world. That we can dream of freedom and have the audacity to build it against all odds. That is why I believe the best tribute we can pay to the hundred people dead and injured in Orlando, to their families, lovers and friends is to reaffirm our willingness to fight.

Today, our rainbow is red-blood stained. But I am among those who believe it will shine intensely after all. Not covered, but aside the red-revolution flags.



[1] – After Jair Bolsonaro and Eduardo Cunha, Brazilian corrupt, rightist, fundamentalist politicians.

[2] – A Brazilian Transsexual in the 50’, who challenged the conservative bourgeois morals of her epoch.

[3] – From an article published in a conservative Brazilian weekly magazine (Veja) to praise Marcela, Michel Temer’s wife, the interim Brazilian president after Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment trial was open.

[4] – Oxumaré (Oshunmare in English) is an Orisha. Oxumaré is the god of the rainbow in the Yoruba mythology. He links the Earth to the sky. Oxumaré is a male Orisha, but some people believe he is both male and female.

[5] – The Dzi Croquettes were a groundbreaking dance and theater group who used their talent and a mix of humor and derision to challenge the violent dictatorship that gripped Brazil in the 1970s. Creating a new stage language that would influence an entire generation, this theater group revolutionized the gay movement despite being banned and censored by the military regime.


Translation: Marcos Margarido.

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