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Community & Behavioral Health | Recovery | Social Change


Changing the Conversation

A.O.: After Orlando – Fragments

06/17/16 02:02 PM | Marc Dones | Social Justice, Race, Diversity, LGBTQ

Inexcusable, the slaughter in this world.
Insufficient, the merely decent man.

At the Restaurant, Stephen Dunn


There’s a certain kind of loss that is supposed to accompany terrorism. A loss of innocence and the sort of sudden and caustic realization that you are not safe—that safety in this world is an illusion, anyone can have access to your personhood at any point. You’re supposed to think to yourself, How could this happen?

But I don’t feel loss. I feel exposed for what I have always known to be true: I can be killed. This is a country where I am not as protected because I am queer and a person of color. These facts of birth have marked me as less valuable to the machines of our society from the beginning. I have been identified early as disposable. Or perhaps not disposable because something you dispose of is something that you may have counted to begin with. I belong to a different category—something closer to a ballpoint pen that wanders away from you because you loaned it to someone and never got it back or left it in a restaurant.

I am something that you never really counted on keeping to begin with.


I’ve been thinking about how headphones now come with noise cancellation technology. They read all the noise around you and produce a wave of the same amplitude, but with an inverted phase; which is just a fancy way of saying that they make the exact opposite sound and when these two sounds meet the result is silence. I’ve been thinking about this because that’s what I watched happen. 49 different sounds met one big burst of the opposite song, and they canceled each other out.

No sound left.

My friend’s husband says to him, I don’t want to die for kissing you.

I have been watching this thing get built for years now. Watching the different men and women go on TV and talk about how I don’t matter. How I am ruining America. They will offer their prayers when I die—send their thoughts in the direction of my death—and go right back to building the things that killed me. They get louder and I get—


Stanley Almodovar III, 23 years old

Amanda Alvear, 25 years old

Oscar A Aracena-Montero, 26 years old

Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33 years old

Antonio Davon Brown, 29 years old

Darryl Roman Burt II, 29 years old

Angel L. Candelario-Padro, 28 years old

Juan Chevez-Martinez, 25 years old

Luis Daniel Conde, 39 years old

Cory James Connell, 21 years old

Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25 years old

Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32 years old

Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, 31 years old

Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25 years old

Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26 years old

Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22 years old

Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22 years old

Paul Terrell Henry, 41 years old

Frank Hernandez, 27 years old

Miguel Angel Honorato, 30 years old

Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40 years old

Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19 years old

Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30 years old

Anthony Luis Laureanodisla, 25 years old

Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32 years old

Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21 years old

Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, 49 years old

Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25 years old

Kimberly Morris, 37 years old

Akyra Monet Murray, 18 years old

Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20 years old

Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez, 25 years old

Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36 years old

Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32 years old

Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35 years old

Enrique L. Rios, Jr., 25 years old

Jean C. Nives Rodriguez, 27 years old

Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35 years old

Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz, 24 years old

Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan, 24 years old

Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34 years old

Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33 years old

Martin Benitez Torres, 33 years old

Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, 24 years old

Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37 years old

Luis S. Vielma, 22 years old

Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, 50 years old

Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37 years old

Jerald Arthur Wright, 31 years old 



People have been saying it was terrorism, but it wasn’t terrorism, or if it was terrorism, it was committed by the men and women who have incited this violence. It was done by the men and women who refused, year after year, to take a weapon off the streets that has the sole purpose of mowing people down in the dance club, in the movie theater, in the elementary school. In another system, one where they didn’t have all the power, we’d hold them accountable. We’d put them in jail, take away their livelihood. I’ve been thinking about power and how because people who are queer and black like me don’t often get much of that, we have to ask people to protect us. On Twitter someone says I’m a n*gger, and when I ask people to report them they say, You don’t have enough followers to do anything to me.

I think to myself that at a certain point the end point of all things becomes whether or not you have power and to what end you exercise that power. All power to the people, someone yells on the street, and I wonder if power has become it’s own thing—if it has left the people. Or, if I am not a person.


I’m thinking there should be a way to demarcate this loss. A shift in time. I’m trying to joke when I say this to a friend and then say, Now we’re After Orlando. A.O.

It immediately feels true, which is probably why I burst into tears.


Read Molly Richard's reflections on LGBTQ solidarity and social change in the wake of the tragedy in Orlando.

Read Allison Rich's thoughts on how to ally with the LGBTQ community during Pride Month and beyond.

Need support?

GLBT National Hotline: 1-888-843-4564

Trevor Project Hotline: 1-866-488-7386

Trans Lifeline: 1-877-565-8860

New York City Anti-Violence Program Hotline (English & Spanish): 1-212-714-1141

Fenway Health LGBT Helpline (ages 25+): 1-888-340-4528

Fenway Health LBGT Helpline (ages 25 & under): 1-800-399-7337

Photo courtesy of Marc Dones.

Marc Dones

Written by Marc Dones

Marc Dones was a trainer for t3 and the Center for Social Innovation supporting human service providers in delivering recovery-oriented, trauma-informed services to people living with substance use disorders, HIV/AIDS, and other related challenges. Previously, Marc worked at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services, focusing on youth violence prevention and reduction as well as systemic responses to youth homelessness. Marc was also the Director of Project Management for Child and Adolescent Services at the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health. They served on the Massachusetts Commission on LGBTQ Youth and co-chaired the Administration Committee. Marc is a graduate of New York University's Gallatin School with a concentration in Psychiatric Anthropology. In their spare time, Marc hangs out with their dog, rides a bike, and is generally impractical. Marc's favorite color is chartreuse.