It is that deep spiritual affection that is as pure as it is perfect. It dictates and pervades great works of art, like those of Shakespeare and Michelangelo.
-Oscar Wilde, on same-sex love during his trial, for which he was convicted of sodomy.
There’s not much that can be added to the global conversation about the tragedy that occurred in Orlando’s Pulse nightclub this past weekend. I’m only addressing it because as a Latina and bisexual woman who lives a little over an hour away from the shooting, and as a member of the small Central Florida fashion community that lost two of their own that night, it felt dishonest to use this little corner of the internet to launch into a tangent about the form and function of vibrators this week.
There’s a history to what happened that night. It’s a history that taints politics, religion, education, healthcare and even the arts. The arts were supposed to be a safe space for human expression, but the LGBT community has had to fight twice to ensure the same promise for themselves. Sometimes proudly. Sometimes silently. Allen Ginsberg had to go to trial over HOWL. Despite being homosexual, Oscar Wilde wrote a main character in The Picture of Dorian Gray whose ambiguous sexuality only served as a metaphor for the corruption of the soul. In his personal life, the author was convicted of sodomy. Most of Walt Whitman’s work can be tied to a sort of liberation of sexuality, a celebration of the human body, even, but he denied implying homosexuality in any of his poetry. We know better now. Regardless, Whitman was still fired from his government job for Leaves of Grass. Fellow poets even burned the book.
I’m not saying anything new. The targeting of LGBT and latinos isn’t even new. And I believe that if you have nothing helpful to add, walk away from the conversation. I just want to reiterate that the arts are supposed to be a safe space. A poem. A book. A painting. A drag show. A nightclub. And while the city and the club will be always be haunted by what happened, Pulse will have the most beautiful and welcoming ghosts.
The one I love most lay sleeping by me under the same cover in the cool night,
In the stillness, in the autumn moonbeams, his face was inclined toward me,
And his arm lay lightly around my breast — And that night I was happy.
-Walt Whitman, Calamus