Rally to #HonorThemWithAction Mixtape
Updated: Jan 2, 2019
Written by Ida V. Eskamani
There’s a quiet knowingness in Orlando. A shared pain and a shared resilience. We feel it every single day. It’s a feeling no town deserves or predicts, known only in the far too many communities who have faced the horrors of a mass tragedy.
On June 12, 2016 Pulse Nightclub, a sanctuary for the queer community in Orlando was attacked by a man consumed by hate and armed with an assault weapon. Forty-nine beautiful souls were lost, dozens physically injured, and thousands traumatized. This tragedy was and continues to be unlike any other mass shooting in the country; not only for its horrific scale, but for who it impacted. Mostly LGBTQ and people of color, many low-wage workers and immigrants or the decedents of immigrants, the victims and survivors of Pulse were already marginalized members of our community. Venues like Pulse served as a sanctuary, a place where you could find your authentic self by losing yourself in the beat of the dance floor. For an entire community, this sacred space was lost; and for the victims’ families and survivors, they now must endure another horrific layer of trauma.
Two years since that night and we are still shattered. Healing is not linear, and just as trauma is unique, so too is healing. How each individual processes trauma is related to how directly impacted they are by the tragedy, by the communities they identify with, previous trauma, and their own emotional capacity. There are survivors who still undergo surgeries to recover from their injuries, those who carry the physical scars of gunshot wounds, and families, biological as well as chosen, who struggle to fill the infinite space left empty by a lost loved one. There are those who lost their sanctuary, those who experience survivor's guilt, and those with debilitating post-traumatic stress. Two years feels like an eternity, just as it feels like a single minute.
I know trauma and loss very intimately. Granted, more intimately than I would like. But I’ve been broken, and I’m putting the pieces back together. I’m a little different with each crack, but I'm a whole lot more resilient. Through these experiences I know that my healing process is intrinsically linked to advocacy. I’m here, I’m alive, and I have to fight for those who are not. “Honor the lives lost, and fight like hell for the living” has been my guiding mantra for the past two years. I’m not alone in this feeling, which brings a lot of comfort.
Beautiful moments and movements have grown from this tragedy, but the pain is palpable and the progress infuriatingly slow. We strive to be #OrlandoUnited and #OrlandoStrong, but that takes so much more than love and compassion. It takes systematic change, and an infinite commitment to our survivors and victims' families.
That is why on June 11th, 2018 survivors of Pulse and Parkland organized the Rally to #HonorThemWithAction. Action from political leaders to end the epidemic of gun violence, reject NRA influence, and address the forgotten needs of our most marginalized communities impacted by Pulse. A traditional rally includes chants, and believe me we have plenty (Hey hey, ho ho, the NRA has got to go!). But music is essential to the queer experience, and plays a pivotal role in healing. So rather than churning out chants, the organizers made a mixtape.
Made with intention in the late hours of rally-planning, the playlist consists of eighteen songs totaling a little over an hour. The tracks reflect on the past two years with songs centering struggle and resilience. We will continue to honor them with action, today and everyday. We hope these tunes will provide solace and motivation.
Find our featured tracks below, and listen to the full mixtape on Spotify here.
Pulse, by Melissa Etheridge
Melissa Etheridge was one of many musicians who used her platform to raise funds for Pulse victims' families and survivors. Tracks like these serve as a reminder of the global grief experienced in June 2016.
Born this Way, by Lady Gaga
Though it may be overplayed, for many Born This Way is an unapologetic queer anthem: "Don't hide yourself in regret, just love yourself and you're set."
Love Make the World Go Round, by Jennifer Lopez & Lin-Manuel Miranda
Puerto Rican powerhouses Jennifer Lopez and Lin-Manuel Miranda joined forces following the Pulse tragedy to create this track in honor of those directly impacted. Many of the victims and survivors were of Puerto Rican descent; making this song especially meaningful. It's upbeat and makes you grove, a brilliant representation of the resilience of the Puerto Rican people.
Survivor, by Destiny's Child
You can't talk about resilience without this track. If this was a Tidal playlist, Queen Bey would be dominating. But Survivor by Destiny's Child resonates.
Burn Masculinity, by Spook School
This queer pop-punx band from Scotland has a clear message that needs to be heard: "So we should, burn burn burn burn masculinity / What good has it ever done?"
Rise Up, by Andra Day
Rise Up is an emotional and vulnerable track that exudes resilience. Some reserve to play this track only in June, because it has such significant meaning for the Orlando queer community. This track concluded the rally, as a rainbow appeared above. __________________
Ida is an Iranian-American from Florida who grew up with the Beatles, and came of age in the pit. She will talk to you about music for as long as you will pretend to listen. She is founder of Bandifesto, a little blog with a big heart.