Many of the tributes to those who died in this weekend’s Pulse massacre, though impassioned, overlook both its predominantly queer Latinx victims and the fact that it occurred during a Latinx-themed event. Actor Wilson Cruz, who lost a family member during the massacre, is upset about those omissions.
“Now that many of the names have been released, I don’t see how anybody who can read that list of names can walk away from it and not know that this wasn’t just a terrorist attack on this nation or specifically on LGBT people,” Cruz told The Huffington Post. “It was a direct attack on LGBT Latinos, predominantly, and the people who love that music and that culture and were there to celebrate it.”
Cruz’s family member Brenda Lee Márquez McCool died in the massacre. One of McCool’s children was with her at Pulse Orlando, but survived.
Cruz offered an additional message to queer Latinx folks:
I don’t know that there is anything that I could say that is going to take the pain away but I can tell you this: I hope they find some refuge and some comfort in knowing that they are members of a long line of LGBT Latino people that have fought their entire lives, generation after generation, for our right to live the lives that we live now. …And while the pain that they feel right now and the fear that they feel right now is very real, their responsibility is to feel it, to understand it, to never forget it but to use it so that the young people who come after them won’t have to deal with fear in the same way. Because that’s what people did for them, and that’s what people did for me.
The openly gay actor famously portrayed “Rickie Vasquez”—one of television’s first gay leading characters of color—on the ’90s cult classic drama “My So-Called Life.” Cruz, whose family hails from Puerto Rico, also works as a GLAAD spokesperson and champions causes related to queer youth of color.
Read the full interview here.