"…In the Borderlands You are the Battleground…": June 12 and the Pulse of the Sacred

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Puncta: Journal of Critical Phenomenology

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DOI: 10.5399/PJCP.v5i4.4


On June 12, 2016, the world witnessed one of the deadliest single shooter massacres in U.S. history. Fifty persons were killed and fifty-three were critically injured. Of those fifty, twenty-three were Puerto Rican; 90% of those killed were Latinx. Their faces spanned the racial kaleidoscope of the African, Latinx, and Indigenous diaspora. Most of them were working class and extremely young (Ochoa 2016). However, these particularities went largely omitted from the coverage of the event that swept the nation under the label of an LGBTQ hate crime. The ubiquity of death of color in the U.S. cannot be overstated. Indeed, many pulses have been lost outside of Pulse nightclub. To many, June 12 may seem like a day among many, lost to the memorials of death no one really wants to remember. In this paper I explore June 12 as we turn the page on its sixth year of remembrance. I make the case for a reading of June 12 as more than an LGBTQ hate crime, but rather as emblematic of a battleground of a sacred space (Latin night at the gay bar) for queer bodies of color. The project establishes a more complex framework for understanding what took place on June 12 that can appreciate the ethno-racial, spiritual, and queer dimensions that foregrounded the event. I maintain that the method of analysis necessitates a different model of theorizing, one that can crystalize the sexuality of terrorism, the whiteness of homonationalism, and thereby the importance of creating sacred space for Latinx queer subjects, many of whom, in the context of June 12, form part of the Puerto Rican diaspora.


Puncta: Journal of Critical Phenomenology, Vol. 5, No. 4 (2022): 51-70. DOI.