Shooting at Orlando Gay Nightclub Leaves 50 Dead

feature image by Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

At least 50 people were killed at Pulse, a gay nightclub, in Orlando around 2 a.m. Sunday morning after a gunman opened fire in the deadliest mass shooting in recent U.S. history. Police say at least 53 more people were injured. Police shot and killed the gunman who was identified as Omar Manteen, a 29-year-old from Fort Pierce, Florida.

Orlando Police Chief John Mina said an off-duty officer working security at the nightclub exchanged gunfire with the shooter, who carried “an assault-type rifle and handgun.”

“The officer engaged in a gun battle with that suspect. The suspect at some point went back inside the club and more shots were fired. This did turn into a hostage situation,” Mina said.

Manteen was shot dead by officers about three hours later after SWAT team members entered the club. The shooting is being investigated as an act of terrorism.

NBC News spoke to Manteen’s father, Mir Seddique and he apologized for Manteen’s actions. “We weren’t aware of any action he is taking. We are in shock like the whole country,” he said. Seddique adds it had nothing to do with religion and that he believes his son got angry when he saw two men kissing in Miami a couple of months ago and thinks it may be related to the shooting, NBC News reports.

Even though authorities haven’t named this a hate crime, Florida Rep. Alan Grayson spoke to the media and said: “It’s a gay club. It might be that we’ve seen a commission of an awful hate crime last night.”

Right now officials are trying to sort out if Manteen’s actions and motives are linked to a wider terrorist organization and are reporting on his nationality and his family’s nationality but that doesn’t matter. One thing is clear — this was a homophobic attack. Manteen targeted a gay nightclub on Latin Night that was filled with LGBT people during Pride month, a time in which we should be celebrating our triumphs. You can’t ignore these facts. These were our friends and family who were killed. Conservative and liberal politicians alike will condemn this act of violence and rightfully so but don’t be fooled by Republican lip service. This shooting was fueled by their right-wing, conservative rhetoric that’s perpetuated by their anti-LGBT laws and anti-transgender bathroom bills which has created a hostile climate for LGBT people.

In the wake of the aftermath, OneBlood, a blood center in Orlando said it was in an urgent need of donors. However, since we live in an upside down world, queer men and trans women can’t help out their injured brothers, sisters and siblings because of FDA’s blood donation regulation which pretty much bans them from donating if they’ve had sex with men in the past year.

Our heart goes out to the Orlando queer community. We mourn the loses of our friends and family. This is devastating news and I hope y’all are taking care of yourselves and each other.

Yvonne S. Marquez is a lesbian journalist and former Autostraddle senior editor living in Dallas, TX. She writes about social justice, politics, activism and other things dear to her queer Latina heart. Yvonne was born and raised in the Rio Grande Valley. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter. Read more of her work at

Yvonne has written 206 articles for us.


  1. It’s hard to say anything that doesn’t sound trite, I guess, but I also think it’s okay that we speak a common language after tragedies like this. Sending strength and comfort and love and prayers is a good thing. My heart breaks for Orlando.

    I’ve seen a couple of fundraisers online collecting donations for the Orlando LGBTQ community and specifically for the victims of last night’s attacks, and their loved ones. The Orlando GLBT Community Center has set up a Go Fund Me:; and I’ve seen another page put together by Equality Florida where they’ve raised nearly $1M so far:

    I have this irrational fantasy that Congress will strike the second amendment and special brigades will go door-to-door and confiscate every single firearm in the nation and destroy them. Is it plausible? No. Is it even the best option to end gun violence? I mean maybe/probably not but I still fantasize about the possibility of there being a safe(r) space in this country again.

    The only sense of comfort I am clinging to right now is how incredibly strong and supportive our communities (and allies) are. I want to believe that being unwavering in our celebration of queerness is a form of justice for the living and the dead. I love and appreciate my ‘tribe’, as it were, more and more every single day, which also intensifies the grief and pain felt when any member of our community is harmed.

    Lastly, I just want to co-sign the comments noting that this was Latin night at Pulse and that this tragedy cuts across multiple communities and identities. My condolences and deepest love to those in Orlando and my solidarity and support and appreciation for my LGBTQ loved ones everywhere.

  2. I’m so sorry for everyone in the US right now? it’s so terrible what happened. I hate how it’s being reported as an ‘evil Muslim terror attack’, when tbh the values that drove the attack can be found in both eastern and western cultures. The guy was a Muslim, but he was living in a western country that still enforces some pretty archaic values about LGBTs. People can’t just say his homophobia was motivated by his religion without acknowledging the country he actually lives in, like what the helllllll?? And all these people trying to pin it on Islam just reek of the same people who harass us in bathrooms and call inanimate objects gay.

    I think I reached peak levels of pissed when my own prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, made a statement about how sorry he is for the Orlando terror attack and completely neglected to mention anything about the LGBT community. According to him we should be ‘united against this attack on us all’, but it’s a bit rich coming from the guy who is single handedly stalling any progress on LGBT rights in this country. I JUST CANNOT OVERSTATE HOW PISSED I AM RN.

  3. There isn’t a whole lot to say other than this fucking sucks

    It fucking sucks that it was LGBTQ kids dancing

    It’s fucking too much that it was during Pride

    It cut a way these things haven’t in the past, and it also fucking sucks that I was surprised by that, by the fact that it cut

    It fucking sucks that this type of mass shooting bullshit has happened so often that I’m surprised that all of us aren’t numb to it by now

    It fucking sucks that Pride isn’t safe, that no place is safe, that fifty families are mourning fifty people dead and fifty three more were injured just because they went out dancing and were Gay and weren’t ashamed

    It just fucking sucks

  4. as if there weren’t already enough reasons for the queer community to be disdainful about muslims and those who look like them, even if they happen to be queer themselves

    hell there are also “pro-lgbt” lefty types attacking muslims on social media – including queer muslims!! – for being ISIS supporters

    and yet between governments going all “gay rights are anti-islam!!” and prominent lgbt activists being murdered while the gov does nothing I don’t think anyone in my background would care :(

  5. I respond to things like this by being angry. I just do. I’m pissed. I wanted to lash out on social media today. I probably would have hurt some people by doing so, which made me refrain. But damn, I wanted to.

    I’m going to Pride for the very first time this weekend, just because of this, and I swear if any religious people, I don’t care what religion, show up and try to cause a problem, I will freight train a mofo.

  6. Article discussing the need to address all facets of who is targeted, and calling for solidarity that addresses the racism coming from multiple directions as the story is reported and people react:


    “….[T]he media has failed to report that this attack targeted LGBTQ communities of color. A 2012 report on hate violence against the gay community found that LGBTQ people of color were 1.82 times more likely to experience physical violence. In 2012, 73.1 percent of anti-LGBTQ homicide victims were people of color – with black/African Americans accounting for 54 percent and Latinos for 15 percent, according to Colorlines.”

    [I love Colorlines– for anyone unfamiliar, check them out at ]

    “Many in the Latino community are speaking out about the lack of attention being given to violence against LGBTQ communities of color, and at the same time, they are striking down Islamophobia.” [the article then quotes a series of examples of intersectional solidarity statements and other responses to the massacre]

  7. Y’all I had to walk away from my mother today because she was being a brain washed dipshit.
    Somehow James Corden’s little speech at the beginning of the Tony’s was “cowtowing to terrorists”.
    She couldn’t tell me how the fuck support of Sandyhook was any fucking different from support of the Orlando shooting and the queer community.

    Most of my sharp tongue, my ability to wear people down by pointing out faults in their logic comes from her. I think if I hadn’t walked away I would have lost it and just started to wordlessly scream after arguing with her using the word she hates.
    We are equally hard headed and good at finding weakpoints and going in for the kill.

    I am used to cognitive dissonance, to willful ignorance of people, I am used to knowing about mass killings and so many awful things I learned about so young.

    But to have such a logical person like my mother say something so fucking stupid….I can’t even.

    How are really different are mass shooters from suicide bombers and other “soldiers” of terror?
    Is what I would have said to anyone else because I would have been calmer and expectant of the stupid.
    But instead I had to give up and walk away or lose my cool and have her “win” the argument

    Fellow Straddlers in the coming days when faced with Islamphobia ask:
    How are really different are mass shooters from suicide bombers and other “soldiers” of terror?
    A person disillusioned and disaffected by their live or their self deciding to seek glory, seek something and it turns out to be violence. How easy is it to take disillusioned people and give them terrible purpose? Hitler did it perfectly.

    Be an ally.
    Our queer and straight Muslim fellow humans need it.
    Don’t just question Islamphobic comment and statement from people, amplify Muslim voices speaking out against atrocity and the warlords who claim themselves a nation state.

    En palabras de Celia Cruz: Juntos nosotrxs viviremos, nosotrxs viviremos y sobreviviremos
    In the adapted words of Celia Cruz: Together we will live and survive

  8. Thank you for the article. The media i more focused on making all Muslims seem evil and avoid pointing out that this was an LGBQ club.Too many comments under the posts are filled with racism and homophobia. I think it’s ridiculous that some fools want all Muslims to apologize for the killer’s actions.We don’t demand all white people to apologize for the white male serial killers.Any religion can be twisted and used for violence. Even Atheism can be used to justify violence. Portland,Or is having pride next week and I’m not sure if I’ll go. After what almost happened to L.A. Pride, it makes me nervous tbh

  9. His own Muslim upbringing (if it was that; does Afghan automatically mean Muslim?) may have had something to do with it. But, it could as easily have been a Christian, or a Hindu (look at the way LGBT is treated here in India or even pub going women), or even an atheist in communist China. No religion/ideology has a monopoly on people who commit hate crimes. Only ignorance (or closed mindedness and a non-willingness to look at the world from another’s point of view) has.

    May people look for connection rather than division and exclusion in whatever teaching/ideology they choose to follow! May they find love and friendship rather than hatred and fear!

  10. My wife and I took our 9 month old daughter to the vigil in Seattle. My baby girl attended a vigil for victims of a hate crime before she even got to attend her first Pride celebration. Let that sink in a minute.

    • That sort cruel dissonance of life sunk into my bones when I was five years old. I don’t tell you this to sorrow you further but to let you know how brave I think any parent is who chooses to nurture, love and raise a child and how much I honestly mean that.
      It’s a leap of faith.

      • Thank you. I’m constantly terrified over what sort of world we’re leaving to her and my 9 year old son. It has to get better,right? Why does it feel like it’s getting worse? But then I stop and think that maybe, by raising these two kids with love and strength, I’m making the world better.

        • It feels like it’s getting worse because humans are animals. We collect and focus on Bad Things to protect ourselves.
          It’s like being in front of an open flame. You can’t stop or don’t want to stop thinking about that flame and what it could wreak if you don’t pay attention to it. But maybe you stop thinking so hard about it, put the flame a little further back in your mind where it’s not your prime focus. THEN holy shit flame flame there is fire in front of me how could I not think about it. Danger danger danger so much danger.

          There will always be Bad Thing and there will always be Good Things but do the Good Things have a chance of ruining something the way Bad Thing do? Not really thus why the Bad Things emotionally feel like they outweigh the Good Things.

          Being concerned about the world and raising 2 humans with love strength does help make the world better.

  11. This is beyond sad sad!!

    I have so many words but I’m gonna stick with:
    My prayers go out to them and their family.
    Their deaths will stay within me & maybe some people, and I we’ll keep fighting for love to be continue…

    Rest in peace.

  12. It’s times like this that it’s truly easier to believe in despair over joy. It seems like choosing joy and belief in happiness and the pursuit of equality, hope, respect, dignity, choice, love and freedom is an impossible and reckless act. When the mourning ends, as it will for everyone but the closest friends and family, Who will stand up not in mourning but for the belief in a safe and ultimately loving world? When our leaders could do nothing after the deaths of 20 children, who will do something after the deaths of 50 gay people?

    I fucking can’t stand this shit. Division and indecision = MORE DEAD PEOPLE. I don’t want to have to stand in solidarity with families and a community mourning a heart wrenching loss. I want to stand in solidarity with a community celebrating joy and victory. Celebrating not the end of violence but the fact that we live in a world and with people that will do everything possible to protect us.

    Ugh I’m sorry guys, I’m just really depressed today.

  13. You know, when I saw this news yesterday morning (broken to me by my mother who said, some guy shot 50 people in US in some club: she didn’t understand or ignored that it is a gay club), the first thought I had was, what would those guys in my country’s government, those guys who were the reason our Supreme Court reinstated section 377 and recriminalised gay sex, those guys who tried to block a movie about a gay professor because it brought bad name to their city (apparently, suggesting someone in the city is gay is equivalent to suggesting someone in the city is Satan’s child), say to this? Would they say, good, those people got what they deserved? Or, would they ignore the little LGBT thing and say, we are so sorry this happened to good old America, our allies?

    Wow! I sound angry and bitter, don’t I?

    I am, and I was angry and bitter, when I read that our PM sent out condolence message without acknowledging that the violence was also against LGBT people. I am angry that the PM or his people never mentioned that the thing they decry has also a reflection in his own people. I am angry that he and the others are unwilling to say, that “Hey! For the first time, we see how monstrous our thoughts were. We are seeing our reflection and we don’t like that. We don’t like what we have become in our narrowmindedness. We want to change.”

    Instead, they (I am not talking about PM Modi here, but general internet Indians) take this opportunity to speak ill about Muslims. As if nobody but a Muslim could have such horrific thoughts about an LGBTQ person. They take this opportunity to spread more violence, more hate.

    I am not mad at my friends/family (all straight) who never even mentioned this, who never even considered how painful this could be to me specifically because this experience is beyond their spectrum of experience. Because I know that if they knew, they would feel bad. I am mad at people who, while harboring the same feeling within themselves, act hurt, offer condolences; point fingers at others; and think that somehow, that makes them better. I am mad at those who are blind to their own hypocrisy– the politicians in India and Trump (and other anti-gay folks in US), all cut of the same cloth.

    Change comes when we acknowledge our mistakes and decide to do better. If we don’t see that, then what hope have we?

    PS: Now that I have been able to put my feelings into words (I haven’t been able to before), I think I will go and post this in tumblr. At least, I will remember why I am so angry.

  14. I am sorry to sound so angry above. I am so sad for you guys in the US, both for those in Orlando and for those elsewhere. To have your rug pulled out from under you is so horrible. To feel that nowhere is safe is so horrible.

    (I am sad for myself too, but that is beside the point.)

    May friends and family and love be with you.

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