CCCC Queer Caucus Statement of Solidarity with Communities Affected by the Attack on Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida

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We, the undersigned members of the Conference on College Composition & Communication’s Queer Caucus, express solidarity with the victims and all others affected by the recent murders in Orlando, Florida. We see, honor, and value the communities who are caught up in this violence. To the chosen and biological families of those murdered and wounded at Pulse Nightclub, we grieve and mourn your loved ones who were lost and hold in our thoughts those loved ones who are in recovery from the attack. To our students, our colleagues, and others who read this message: We see you. We hear you. We grieve with you. We fight with you. We rage with you. We affirm life with you.

Solidarity means insisting on a narrative that does not whitewash the violence perpetrated against our communities. It is important to emphasize that the attack at Pulse happened on “Latin Night.” Nightclubs and bars have operated as spaces of refuge against violence and spaces of creativity for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Two-Spirit, and Asexual (LGBTQ2A+) people. For LGBTQ2A+ Latinx people, who navigate everyday violence for either appearing “too queer” within the wider Latinx community or “not White enough” within the wider LGBTQ2A+ community, Latin nights serve as important spaces of support and solidarity.

As we grieve, we frame the Orlando attack within the context of numerous anti-Latinx, anti-immigrant, and anti-Black policies and practices that continue to fuel violence against communities of color. It is crucial to underscore that racism, as well as heterosexism, homophobia, transphobia, and cissexism, fueled the attack at Pulse; indeed, because of interlocking forms of oppression, the LGBTQ2A+ people who experience violent attacks are most often queer and trans people of color. Transgender and gender-nonconforming people of color continue to comprise the majority1 of homicides perpetrated against LGBTQ2A+ and HIV affected communities.

We also wish to explicitly acknowledge that, among the murdered and wounded at Pulse, were Black people, specifically African American and Afro Latinx people. With this in mind, we state that to be against the violence that spurred the attack in Orlando, one must also understand that Black lives matter and work actively against anti-Black racism as it manifests in LGBTQ2A+ and POC communities. Related, we challenge any such discussions of the attack on Pulse that erase the lives of Afro-Latinx and Black people.

We also cannot separate the attack on Pulse from transphobia and cissexism. Pulse is a noted trans-friendly space, and on the night of the attack, trans and cisgender Latinx drag performers were headlining. Anti-trans sentiment is ever-present and often ignored in the US, particularly for trans women of color. Lately, however, we have seen a renewed attack on trans and gender-nonconforming people, attacks which include religious and political leaders encouraging violence against gender diverse peoples.

The cruel irony is that many of these same religious and political leaders now take to the media to express their condolences to the families of those murdered at Pulse. As they comment on the killer’s hate and bigotry, they themselves remain unaccountable for the ways their equally harmful anti-trans policies (e.g., North Carolina’s HB2 and similar proposed legislation in South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin, among other states) engender a culture of violence and structural oppression—evident before, within, and unfortunately, now beyond the attack on Orlando Pulse. We charge these religious and political leaders, and US culture at large, as culpable in fueling violence against trans, queer, and gender-nonconforming people. We similarly refuse to ignore the connections between the characterization of multi-racial trans, queer, and gender nonconforming communities as “public dangers” and the (legal and) extralegal violence perpetrated against these communities.

When we speak of tragedies, it is important that we consider our framing. We call particular attention to the ways in which the recent attack in Orlando has been referred to as the “worst mass shooting in United States history.” Regardless of intent, this framing erases Native voices and the violence of settler colonialism. It leaves out US government-sponsored massacres of Native peoples at the Battle of Bad Axe, Colorado River, Clear Lake, Sand Creek, Blue Water Creek, Wounded Knee, and—tragically and damningly—many others.2 It also leaves out racist mass murders of people of color in Atlanta, Tulsa, and Elaine, Arkansas, among other states across the country. Such erasure has the effect of absolving White people of their own violence. As multi-racial LGBTQ2A+ activists, we understand that our solidarity must always be intersectional, even–especially–in our moments of pain.

We are also concerned by the Islamophobic discourse that has (once again) erupted in the wake of the attack at Pulse. Not only does this ethnocentric rhetoric erase LGBTQ2A+ Muslims but it also falsely portrays Muslims as inherently violent and worthy of violence. We encourage people to ask themselves, since the majority of homegrown terror has been perpetrated by White Christian men3, why we encounter no similar indictments of Christianity’s inherent violence—to say nothing about the violence of white supremacy and toxic masculinity. As we grieve, we also hope that this recent attack, which joins similar violence in Charleston, Wichita, Ferguson, Staten Island, Baltimore, and beyond, causes us to ask tough questions about guns, policing, militarism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, and racism in US society. We also reject the many ongoing discussions that position Islam and LGBTQ2A+ identities as antithetical or mutually exclusive of one another, thus erasing LGBTQ2A+ Muslims all over the world.

Related, we unequivocally reject the move to use the recent deaths of queer and trans people of color, and heterosexual-cisgender people of color, to argue for more war abroad and more policing and imprisonment at home. We reject our nation’s penchant4 for deploying “pro-gay” messages as a way to paint those in the Global South as inherently violent and thus disposable. Similarly, we do not support the way in which hate crime laws have been deployed, almost exclusively, to single out poor people and people of color.5 In an age of endless war and mass incarceration, we urge our communities and our supporters to understand that such violence (waged in our name) does nothing to protect our freedom or to secure our safety. Indeed, such narratives ignore the fact that, sometimes, those with badges and guns perpetrate the worst violence against marginalized peoples. As multiracial LGBTQ2A+ activists, we evoke the right to imagine a world without borders, prisons, and war.

In the age of social media, sustained empathy and energies risk becoming diffuse. For that reason, we close by emphasizing that solidarity must not end with expressions of grief after the attack in Orlando. We encourage everyone to recognize that the work of anti-oppression is not external to us; rather, it is work that begins within us as well, as we engage with the discomfort these events raise for our own relationship to power and privilege, and employ self-reflexivity as a necessary tool in the work of justice, liberation, and resistance of antihuman forces. In addition to turning inward, we must also act. The CCCC Queer Caucus encourages its members and allies to combat discrimination that affects our communities, in the form of public and institutional pedagogies that perpetuate the myth of value-neutral teaching; of proliferating heterosexist and cissexist laws and policies; of racial profiling and police brutality; of workplace discrimination and the decimation of workers’ rights; of the criminalization of homelessness, sex work, and simply existing as an undocumented person. The CCCC Queer Caucus understands that all violence perpetrated against marginalized groups falls under the rubric of LGBTQ2A+ social justice. In that light, we encourage our caucus members, colleagues, and readers to join us in acting in solidarity to combat oppression in all its forms.

1 Waters, E., Jindasurat, C. & Wolfe, C. (2016). A report from the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and HIV-Affected Hate Violence in 2015, 2016 release edition. Retrieved from

2 Hajela, D., & Fonseca, F. (2016, June 15). AP explains: How does Orlando massacre fit into US history? Associated Press. Retrieved from

3 Ybarra, M. (2015, June 24). Majority of fatal attacks on U.S. soil carried out by white supremacists, not terrorists. The Washington Times. Retrieved from

4 Spade, D. & Willse, C. (2014). Sex, gender, and ware in an age of multicultural imperialism. QED: A Journal in GLBTQ Worldmaking. 1(1): 5–29.

5 Bonski, M., Pellegrini, A. & Amico, M. (2013, October 2). Hate crime laws don’t prevent violence against LGBT people. The Nation. Retrieved from

G Patterson
Queer Caucus Co-Chair
Ball State University

Becca Hayes
Queer Caucus Co-Chair
Michigan State University

Donnie Johnson Sackey
Queer Caucus Standing Panel Chair
Wayne State University

Jackie Rhodes
Cal State San Bernardino

Eric Darnell Pritchard
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Rose Gubele
University of Central Missouri

Qwo-Li Driskill
Oregon State University

Don Unger
Queer Caucus Historian
St. Edward’s University

Timothy Oleksiak
Queer Caucus Treasurer
Bloomsburg University

Garrett Avila-Nichols
Queer Caucus Standing Panel Chair
Bridgewater State University

Cona Marshall
Queer Caucus Secretary
Lebanon Valley College

Jonathan Alexander
University of California Irvine

Rodrigo Joseph Rodriguez
The University of Texas at El Paso

Alexandra Cavallaro
Cal State San Bernardino

Trixie G. Smith
Michigan State University

Michael J. Faris
Queer Caucus Webmaster
Texas Tech University

Casey Miles
Queer Caucus Social Media Chair
Michigan State University


In solidarity with the communities affected by the attack at Pulse Nightclub, the co-authors of this statement invite our colleagues, in and outside the interdisciplinary field of Rhetoric & Writing Studies, to add their signatures of support below.