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A year after Florida massacre, local LGBTQ community remembers

By Forrest Milburn, Staff Writer

Updated 10:47 am, Monday, June 12, 2017
  • A Year After Florida Massacre, Local LGBTQ Community Remembers
  • A Year After Florida Massacre, Local LGBTQ Community Remembers

Photo: Photo Courtesy Of Anthony Diaz

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Anthony Diaz, who goes by the stage name of Violetta Slay, lip syncs to a disco melody from Selena as the crowd watches on at the second-installment of MexiQueens, a drag show featuring Latino performers, on May 20, 2017.

Brian Hernandez (left) and Anthony Diaz (right) pose before the second-installment of MexiQueens, a drag show featuring Latino performers at Karolinas Antiques on May 20, 2017. Brian Hernandez (left) and Anthony Diaz (right) pose before the second-installment of MexiQueens, a drag show featuring Latino performers at Karolinas Antiques on May 20, 2017.

Photo: Photo Courtesy Of Anthony Diaz

A year after Florida massacre, local LGBTQ community remembers

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The night Anthony Diaz[3] walked through the doors of a gay club for the first time, he found it a breathtaking experience. Diaz, then 18, felt the adrenaline coursing through him as he presented his newly issued driver s license to the San Antonio club s security guard, who gave him the OK to enter.

You walk into this place, and it s so surreal, Diaz said, now 27. In a crowd, you don t want to stand out in a good way. Here, nobody stands out.

Like any other kid navigating the hurdles that come with being LGBTQ, it was a metamorphic moment that signaled he had arrived at adulthood as a gay man after years of being told it gets better. For Diaz, it wasn t the night s pounding of bass-heavy electronica or the cute boys trading glances at the bar that stands out in his memory, but something else entirely: a sense of family. But going to a club changed for Diaz and many in his LGBTQ family after June 12, 2016, when a gunman opened fire inside the popular Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida, killing 49 predominately Latino LGBTQ people and leaving 53 more severely injured. Officials said it was a hate crime and terrorist attack, the worst since 9/11.

The tragedy sent shockwaves through the community of an estimated 10 million LGBTQ people living across the country, including San Antonio. Memorials and vigils quickly popped up as the Orlando Police Department[4] and national media scrambled to address the question on every LGBTQ person s mind: Why?

This is our place, Diaz said. This would be like somebody attacking a church and you go to church every single day. The answer to the question why? is far from satisfactory but today, a year later, many in the LGBTQ community have moved on, after turning the tragedy into a valuable lesson about the need to be prepared. Go to ExpressNews.com to read more about the lessons the San Antonio LGBTQ community has learned[5] since the Orlando massacre.

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