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  • Writer's pictureZachary Blair

How the market commodifies the life and murder of Black and Latinx LGBTQ+ folx

To understand how the market commodifies the life and murder of Black and Latinx LGBTQ+ folx, look to the intersection of the the OnePulse Foundation, Calvin Klein, and Gay Pride. Proceeds to CK's Pride clothing line supports straight, white bar owner Barbara Poma's $150k salary and death tourism.

Public records show that Barbara Poma ran Pulse in violation of its approved use (which was not for a nightclub, but for a restaurant and martini bar). It was not supposed to have a dance floor or charge nightly covers. Public records also show, that to maximize profits, the Poma's made unpermitted renovations that trapped Pulse patrons inside and affected their escape and rescue.

Orange County has provided $10M in tourism grant money to the non-profit she incorporated after REFUSING the sell the property to the City of Orlando for a public memorial park (for considerably more than it was worth—the City was more than generous in their offer) and being unable to re-open the violation-ridden nightclub.

Today, the Florida State government vetoed funding the continued mental health care of survivors through the Orlando United Assistance Center (which, never did enough to begin with—especially in helping survivors OUTSIDE of Orlando). Orlando is a city built on tourism, a number of Pulse victims were not from Orlando. So local and state governments have provided monetary support to building a privatized memorial-museum complex, which will benefit the bar owner who is being sued by survivors and who still owns the Pulse property that tax-free donations are being used to improve the property, as well as the City of Orlando of course... OVER the continued needs of people who were actually injured in the shooting and still need help.

Recently released 990s and tax returns for OnePULSE show that most of the funds it has received has come from local governments and corporations. Only a small percentage has been generated from the public.

Survivors and victims of the shooting continue to work to expose the injustice that is racial capitalism.

Still, LGBTQ+ Black and Latino folx, particularly our trans brothers and sisters, have been excluded from the system. More than mere exclusion, their names are often only published in newspapers, magazines, and social media posts when they are beaten or murdered. So, we collectively get excited and celebrate when anyone has "made it"—has achieved visibility, vital fame, or has their face printed on a giant billboard. We do this while ignoring that the billboard overlooks a gentrified gay village, where again market forces turned queer thriving into wealth for predominantly white, straight, cis folk (see, here, here, here, and here).

This is why queers must collectively change our perspective on what progress and success look like; redefine how we participate in an unjust political economic system that has always used black bodies to generate wealth; and consider how our individual successes might contribute to collective harm.

In the words of Angela Davis, "we can not eradicate racism without eradicating racial capitalism."



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