This week, Univision’s Maria Elena Salinas sat down with a man claiming to be the Orlando shooter’s former lover. The man, who is going by “Miguel” and was interviewed with an altered appearance and voice to conceal his identity, claims to have had a friends with benefits type of relationship with Omar Mateen. “Miguel” claims that their fling lasted two months, meeting up 15-20 times in that time frame. “Miguel” told Salinas that he felt obligated to contact the FBI to tell them what he knew about Mateen. The man even offered Univision a motive: revenge. According to this guy’s story, Mateen allegedly picked up two Puerto Rican men from Pulse and had an unprotected threesome. Later, one of the men admitted to being HIV positive and this, “Miguel” claims, caused the shooter to snap and go on a shooting rampage targeting Latinos.
“He [Omar] was terrified that he was infected,” “Miguel” told Univision. “I asked him, ‘Did you do a test?’ Yes. He went to the pharmacy and did the test. It came out negative but it doesn’t come out right away. It takes 4, 5 months. When I asked him what he was going to do now, his answer was ‘I’m going to make them pay for what they did to me.'”
But, “Miguel” claims that Mateen was never accepted by the gay Latinos he “adored” and that it had affected him. Instead, “Miguel” claims that the shooter was used by the men at Pulse Nightclub and that there were moments that “made him feel really bad.” That is why “Miguel” believes Mateen attacked out of revenge and not as an act of terror.
Univision has not been able to verify the account of the threesome, but the FBI did confirm that they have spoken with “Miguel” about his connection to the shooter.
The Coronavirus has shaken Puerto Rico as it’s faced more than 2,000 cases and 114 deaths. And this health pandemic has come amid the island’s ongoing recovery from a string of earthquakes and Hurricane Maria. But the island is also suffering from an epidemic of anti-LGBTQ violence.
In 2020 alone, there have been more than 10 murders of LGBTQ individuals – five of them have been trans women and authorities have solved only three of them. For many in the community, it’s a shock to see that the island is right back where they were ten years ago when the island suffered another rash of LGBTQ-targeted killings.
Hate crimes have risen amid the island’s struggle to contain the Coronavirus pandemic.
Puerto Rico has been hit by an “epidemic of violence” with five transgender murders in two months.
Opposition lawmakers and campaigners called on the government to publicly acknowledge and investigate the violence, after the bodies of two trans women were found inside a charred car last week and another trans woman was killed in February.
“Trans people are living in fear, they are terrified,” said Pedro Julio Serrano, spokesman for the Broad Committee for the Search for Equality, an LGBT+ rights advocacy group.
“It’s as if they’ve opened hunting season against the LGBT+ community, and they’re hunting us, they’re looking for us and they are killing us,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Trans women have been particularly targeted in several gruesome attacks.
Out of the 10 deaths affecting the LGBTQ community, five of them have been trans women.
One woman was killed after being placed in a men’s prison after authorities refused to admit her to a women’s prison. There, she was beaten, tortured, raped and hanged. Her attackers have since been arrested and convicted.
Two trans women were shot and then burned alive in their vehicle. And then another trans women, Alexa, was brutally attacked after being followed by groups of social media trolls
”The killing of a person believed to be a transgender woman that has shocked and angered many in Puerto Rico is likely a hate crime,” Gov. Wanda Vázquez said Tuesday.
“Everything points to this being a hate crime, and that’s how it will be treated,” she said.
Homophobic rhetoric from politicians and religious leaders may have fuelled the bloodshed.
The current Puerto Rican government has been embroiled in scandal after scandal and much of it has revolved around it’s obvious homophobic rhetoric. The government is working to roll back hard on protections, including adoption rights, hospital visitation, and abortion rights.
Puerto Rico’s leaders have also attempted to pass a ‘religious liberty’ bill that would legalize discrimination against the LGBTQ community.
When a government gives permission to discriminate, you’ll see the spike in violence like the island is seeing. If the government isn’t going to do anything to stop the violence and the police are less likely to investigate, society feels like it can literally get away with murder.
For many, the growing violence is a shock considering Puerto Rico has been making progress against homophobia and transphobia.
Just ten years ago, Puerto Rico suffered another rash of homophobic violence after eight gay and bi men were killed in the span of a couple of months. Their murders shocked much of the country and led to the progress that many borinqueños are proud of.
While many other Caribbean islands outlaw gay sex, the U.S. territory has introduced legal reforms, legalising same-sex marriage in 2015 and allowing trans people to change their gender on birth certificates in 2018.
In fact, Puerto Rico enacted legislation and protections that secured it’s spot at number 20 among the 55 U.S. states and territories when it comes to LGBTQ protections.
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There’s no doubt that FX’s hit show “Pose” put voguing on the mainstream map. Queer people of color are the central characters of the show and the authentic and unflinching representation has changed the television landscape. So, of course, HBO is now bringing Ballroom culture to millions.
Afro-Puerto Rican voguing superstar Leiomy Maldonado is bringing Ballroom to the masses.
Trans voguing royalty Leiomy Maldonado, also known as Amazon Leiomy, will be a judge on HBOmax’s new competition show called “Legendary.” Eight houses will be competing on the show bringing Ballroom culture from underground and fiction to mainstream. The trailer for the show is already promising some gag-worthy moments as the Ballroom houses deliver incredible dancing.
Maldonado is a Ballroom veteran and house mother so her judgment on the show will hold a lot of weight.
Maldonado has been voguing in the Ballroom scene since she was a teenager. The Ballroom world gave Maldonado a chance to truly explore who she was and gave her a space to understand her trans identity.
As an Afro-Puerto Rican trans woman, Maldonado’s family had work to do to fully understand her. While Maldonado previously told mitú that it wasn’t until she was on “America’s Best Dance Crew” that they understood what her transition and dancing career meant.
Dashaun Wesley, also known as Dashaun Lanvin, will also be part of “Legendary” as the MC while Jameela Jamil will be a judge.
At first, Jamil was cast as the host and judge of “Legendary” but fans of Ballroom culture were not having it. The announcement faces instant and severe backlash and Jamil was suddenly no longer the host. It was shortly after the controversy that Jamil came out as queer and people questioner her motive for coming out.
There is so much love going to the people bringing this show to life.
This is a time of increasing representation on television. People want to see their stories and stories of the people they know and love reflected on big and small screens. HBOmax is taking the desire and offering people a chance to see their own queer identities and identities of those they love broadcast to the world.
Honestly, the name is perfectly fitting for the caliber of talent they have on the show.
Maldonado and Lanvin are among the most talked about and respected dancers in the voguing community. Maldonado is the mother of The House of Amazon, hence her nickname Amazon Leiomy. Lanvin’s own expertise in Ballroom culture landed him a spot on FX’s “Pose.” Lanvin plays Shadow Wintour in the series and serves the looks and moves to keep the show as exciting as it has ever been.
“Legendary” will be streaming on HBOmax on May 27.
Make sure you tune in to watch the various houses slay all day on that runway. They are guaranteed to give it all because that is just how voguers do. Thank you to all of the queer people of color who are putting this and other POC LGBTQ+ stories on the map one platform at a time.