Author Archives: James Garcia

On the Pulse massacre: Who is left out of the current discourse?

Pulse2Photo by PeskyMonkey / iStock.

This blog post is a joint collaboration between: Minnah W. Farook, APAGS member and Student Affiliate Member of Divisions 17, 45, 35, 29, 52, and 56 and Counseling Psychology Ph.D. Candidate, Roberto L. Abreu, Counseling Psychology Ph.D. Candidate and Co-chair of the  National Latina/o Psychological Association Orgullo Latinx: Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity SIG  and Division 45 Student Committee Co-liaison, and James J. García, Clinical Health Psychology Ph.D. Candidate and Past Chair of the APAGS Committee for the Advancement of Racial and Ethnic Diversity (APAGS-CARED).

Disclaimer: The opinions in this blog represent the personal opinions of the authors and not necessarily those of APA, APAGS, NLPA, or any other divisions of the APA.

A year ago we mourned the loss of 49 LGBTQ+ victims (58 wounded) during the Pulse nightclub massacre, most (90%) of whom were of Latinx and Puerto Rican heritage.  Since then, the LGBTQ+ community, especially queer Latinx and people of color (PoC), have struggled to heal while fostering resilience and finding ways to work through fear and hypervigilance.  Needless to say, both the Latinx and LGBTQ+ community at large have, and will continue, to mourn.  Additionally, there have been repeated attempts by conservative politicians to co-opt this traumatic experience for the LGBTQ+ and Latinx community in order to advance an anti-Muslim agenda.  This has contributed to a sociopolitical narrative that:

  1. Allows the media and politicians to scapegoat the Muslim community by promoting anti-Muslim rhetoric and policies.
  2. Does not recognize the complexity of internalized homophobia and heterosexism, mental health issues, and gun control legislation that may be factors in the Pulse attack.

On June 10, 2017, ACT for America, a group that has been identified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, organized a “March Against Sharia” in 20 states and 28 cities across the country.  Although described as defenders of Muslim women and human rights, the founder of the group, Brigitte Gabriel, has equated all Muslims with terrorists, claimed that Muslims cannot be loyal to America, and has spread hate speech to demonize all Muslims.  In close proximity to the march, and timed with the anniversary of the massacre at Pulse nightclub, members of the group took the opportunity to connect their anti-Muslim message with support for LGBTQ rights.  This opportunistic ploy has attracted misinformed LGBTQ individuals and LGBTQ allies to these marches and to the thinly veiled anti-Muslim agenda of ACT for America.

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SomosOrlando

#SomosOrlando: Latinx LGBTQ+ being Ignored while Simultaneously Killed

SomosOrlandoThis blog post is a joint collaboration between: James J. García, Chair of the APAGS Committee for the Advancement of Racial and Ethnic Diversity (CARED), Roberto L. Abreu, Co-chair of the National Latina/o Psychological Association Orgullo Latinx: Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity SIG and Division 45 Student Committee Co-liaison, & Laura P. Minero, Student Representative of the National Latina/o Psychological Association

Disclaimer: The opinions in this blog represent the personal opinions of the authors and not necessarily those of APA, APAGS or NLPA.

Across the nation, many of our hearts were broken by the massacre of 49 LGBTQ+ individuals and 50+ wounded during Pride Month and “Latino night” at a nightclub in Orlando. As photographs and names of the victims began to pour in, it was undeniable that most of the LGBTQ+ victims (90%) were Latinx, mostly Puerto Rican and other Latinx backgrounds. We also know that some of the victims came from mixed status families or were undocumented themselves. These challenges add further complexity to the grief and trauma they (and their families) historically have, and will continue to, experience on a daily basis.

As reporters in popular news channels struggled to pronounce the last names of the victims, the racial and ethnic identities of the LGBTQ+ victims were ignored. Many reporters refused to utter the letters “LGBTQ;” comments such as “this is an attack on all of us” were used to generalize this issue to all Americans. Although these statements were meant to show support and solidarity, indeed it concerns all Americans, these messages felt invalidating as this attack was directed at LBGTQ+ people, particularly us the Latinx LGBTQ+ community. This points to a larger systemic and historic problem in the United States: the attempt to sanitize, strip away, and demonize Black, Brown and LGBTQ+ bodies from their identities via a system of oppression, power and privilege sustained by White supremacy, heterosexuality and cisgender identities.

Within the sociopolitical context, we are negatively stereotyped by the media as unsuccessful, a group of criminals, foreign born, and only Spanish-speaking. These stereotypes disregard us as a diverse group of people by ignoring the heterogeneity within our communities. The blatant ethnic gloss against us is not new nor is it the result of recent political rhetoric; rather, there is an extensive history of hostility, which perpetuates a failure to acknowledge our intersections as Latinx LGBTQ+. For those of us who identify as Latinx LGBTQ+, we cannot help but feel that we are being ignored while simultaneously being killed.

There are three points of discourse missing from the current media narrative:

  • First, the sorrow of our Latinx LGBTQ+ community is being used to fuel hatred against the Muslim community and marginalize LGBTQ+ Muslims; however, our plights are similar, as we all live in survival mode to exist in a system that has set us up for disadvantage.
  • Second, there is no mentioning of homophobia and heterosexism within the Latina/o community, which pushed us to create our own spaces where we can temporarily break free of the violence, prejudice and discrimination from our own familias.
  • Lastly, the conversations seem to gloss over racism against LGBTQ+ people of color and those who are biracial/multiracial within the LGBTQ+ community.

Dauntingly, what can we do as psychologists-in-training?

Interpersonal level:

Departmental level:

  • Develop, create, and host healing spaces for LGBTQ+ people of color
  • Advocate for a statement/comment from your Department/University
  • Attend Pride and remembrance events as a Department

Societal level:

Living at the intersection of Black, Brown and LGBTQ+ is to expect that you can be discarded at any time without getting the chance to exist in your own skin. To this end, we, as psychologists-in-training, need to continue having these conversations to effect change together and at different levels of our society.