Culture

Remembering The Victims Of The Orlando Shooting, Many Of Whom Were Latino

On early Sunday morning, 49 people were killed and countless more injured when a gunman armed with an AR-15 and a pistol opened fire at Pulse, a gay night club in Orlando, Flo. The attack on the was the deadliest mass shooting in American history, and it fell on the club’s Latin Night. At least 32 of the people killed were Latino and young, the very same individuals who comprise our readership. These were our brothers and sisters. mitú stands in solidarity with the victims, their families, and the entire LGBTQ community.

Below we’ve compiled profiles on those that have been lost. It’s by no means complete, and we’ll be updating as more information comes to light.

Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34 years old

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Credit: Edward SotoMayor/Facebook

“He was always part of the fun,” David Sotomayor, who identified himself as his cousin, told the Associated Press.

Edward Sotomayor worked for Al and Chuck, a travel agency that catered to the LGBTQ community. His cousin told the AP that Edward was a charismatic and caring man.


Stanley Almodovar III, 23 years old

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Credit: Stanley Almodovar III/Facebook

Stanley Almodovar III was “an amazing with a good soul,” according to his aunt, who spoke with the Orlando Sentinel. Almodovar III was a pharmacy technician working towards completing his degree in pharmacy.

Prior to Saturday night’s horrific events, Almodovar had posted a Snapchat video of himself singing and laughing. “I wish I had that (video) to remember him forever,” Rosalie Ramos, his mother, told the local paper.


Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20 years old

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Credit: Omar Capo/Facebook

Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo lived in Cleveland but was visiting family in Orlando. Ocasio-Capo was a dancer who was coming into his own as an adult, according to his cousin, Leonarda Flores, who spoke to Fusion.

“[He] did not care, he loved himself and he loved others,” Flores told the news outlet, referencing the homophobia Ocasio-Ocampo experienced. “He was very open, he lived who he was. He knew he was beautiful, he knew it and he flaunted it.”


Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22 years old

A photo posted by Juan Guerrero (@juang0628) on

Credit: Juang0628/Instagram

“He was always this amazing person (and) and he was like a big brother to me,” Robert Guerrero, his cousin, told the Associated Press. “He was never the type to go out to parties, would rather stay home and care for his niece and nephew.”

Juan Ramon Guerrero worked as a telemarketer but had enrolled at the University of Central Florida; he wasn’t sure what he wanted to study but was glad to be enrolled in school.

Guerrero came out to his family earlier this year. According to his cousin, his family was “very accepting. As long as he was happy, they were okay with it.”

Guerrero’s boyfriend, Christopher Andrew Leinonen, was also among the victims.


Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32 years old

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Credit: Provincetown Magazine/Facebook

Christopher Andrew Leinonen was originally from Detroit but moved to the Orlando area in the last year. His boyfriend, Juan Ramon Guerrero, was also one of the victims. He was the son of Christine Leinonen, the mother who spoke to various media outlets in tears wanting to know what had happened to her son.

According to ABC News, Christopher Andrew Leinonen established a gay-straight alliance at his high school, for which he was given a humanitarian award.


Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36 years old

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Credit: Eric Ortiz/Facebook

“He was very artistic,” Orlando Gonzalez, his cousin, told the New York Times.

Described as “a goofball,” Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera was originally from Puerto Rico and is survived by his husband.”His husband called me in the morning,” Gonzalez said. “He was hysterical trying to find him.”


Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22 years old

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Credit: Peter Ommy/Facebook

Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz was called “Peter Ommy” by his friends and family, and that’s how he identified as on Facebook. Prior to his tragic death, Gonzalez-Cruz worked for UPS and had lived some time in Africa.


Luis S. Vielma, 22 years old

Credit: @jk_rowling/Twitter

“He was always a friend you could call,” Josh Boesch, who worked with Vielma at Universal Studios, told the Orlando Sentinel. “He was always open and available.”

“Every interaction with guest, he had a smile on his face and always goofy and cheerful. Fun guy to be around,” Linnette Martinez, another co-worker of Vielma’s, told mitú. She describes him as “very sweet and fun.”

The 22-year-old was an attraction operator in the Harry Potter section of the park. Upon learning of his death, Harry Potter author JK Rowling tweeted her condolences, seen above.


Kimberly Morris, 37 years old

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Credit: KJ Morris/Facebook

“She was such a great person and so full of life,” Starr Shelton, an ex-girlfriend, recounted to the Orlando Sentinel. ” I can truly say heaven has gained an angel.

Morris, who went by KJ, had recently moved to Orlando from Hawaii. She was a bouncer at the club.

“She was just the sweetest person,” added Narvell Benning, a college friend. “I can’t think of a time when I did not see a smile on her face. I’m so thankful for the good memories I have of her. This is just unreal.”


Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30 years old

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Credit: GoFundMe

Eddie Jamoldroy Justice worked as an accountant in Orlando. He texted his mother, Mina Justice, as the act of terror was taking place.
“Mommy I love you,” he texted.

The two communicated intermittently until he stopped responding. Mina Justice would eventually get news that her son was among the victims.

“Going To Try &Get Some Rest. Please Keep The Prayers Coming,” Mina Justice wrote on Facebook, according to the Orlando Sentinel. “The Prayers Of The Righteous Availeth Much. We Will Get Through This Tragedy . One Day At A Time. Sleep Tight Eddie , Mommy Loves You Son.”

A GoFundMe page was set up in honor of Justice.


Darryl Roman Burt II, 29 years old

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Credit: Jacksonville Jaycees/Facebook

Darryl Roman Burt II (second from left in picture above) was a financial aid officer at Keiser University in Jacksonville, Flo., who was working towards his master’s degree. According to people who knew him, he was a positive individual whose optimism rubbed off on others.

“He always had a smile on his face and was a very nice guy,” Lisamarie Winslow, president of KU’s Jacksonville Campus told the Florida Times-Union. “He definitely leaves an impression and had a big personality and he is missed.”


Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32 years old

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Credit: Patricia Drayton Banks/Facebook

Deonka Deidra Drayton, or DeeDee, was working at Pulse when she was killed, according to a woman claiming to be her aunt on Facebook. It’s unclear whether Drayton was an actual Pulse employee.

“While keeping the others in Orlando in prayer, keep my brother, his wife and both our families in your prayers,” Patricia Drayton Banks wrote on her Facebook page. “My neice, Deonka “Dee Dee” Drayton was killed in this horrible tragedy. Senseless. She was at work !!!. ??????. R.I.P Dee Dee. You know this Auntie will miss you.??✌✌????”


Anthony Luis Laureano Disla, 25 years old

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Credit: Lucas Daniel Acosta D’Oleo/Facebook

Laureano, originally from San Juan, Puerto Rico, was known and beloved in Orlando for his drag persona, Alanis Laurell. In a Reddit thread dedicated to Laureano’s gorgeous drag performances, one commenter bid him good-bye with, “Go make the heavens beautiful.”

Here’s Laureano, as Alanis, performing at Miami’s Azucar nightclub:

Credit: Christopher Morales/YouTube

Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35 years old

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Credit: Naej Mendez/Facebook

Jean Carlos and his partner Luis Daniel, known to friends as Danny, died together at Pulse. Jean, who was originally from Puerto Rico, is remembered as being a happy, warm, funny person who loved his job at Perfumania, where he met and fell in love with Danny.


Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37 years old

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Credit: Lestat Wilson/Facebook

Jean’s partner, Danny, was also originally from Puerto Rico, and is remembered by friends as a “protector, confidant and hero.” Growing up in a small town, Danny is remembered as always marching to the beat of his own drum, and was bullied as a result, but that didn’t stop him into growing up into a compassionate and much-loved person.


Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, 50 years old

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Credit: Jimmy Dejesus/Facebook

Originally from Puerto Rico, Dejesus was a professional Jîbaro dancer whose Facebook presence was positive and inspiring, filled with motivational sayings and pictures of his loved ones.


Amanda Alvear, 25 years old

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Credit: Amanda Alvear/Facebook

Amanda was dancing at Pulse with her best friend Mercedez, who also died during the attack. She had been recording herself dancing on Snapchat when the shots first rang out. Her sister, Ashley, shared her heartbreak on Facebook.


Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26 years old

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Credit: Mercedez Florez/Facebook

Mercedez, who died alongside Amanda, has a GoFundMe page set up by loved ones to help her family. Mourners there remember her as a “bright star.”


Martin Benitez Torres, 33 years old

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Credit: Martin B’Nitez/Facebook

Martin’s Facebook page is filled with pictures of his friends and his life in Orlando. Originally from Puerto Rico, Martin’s Facebook bio described him as a “fighter” who aimed to soar.

Con la family en Orlando

Posted by Martin B’nitez on Saturday, June 11, 2016

Credit: Martin B’nitez/Facebook

Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35 years old

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Credit: Xavier E. Serrano/Facebook

Xavier was a dancer who worked at Disney Live! and performed at the annual Atlanta Bachata Fest.

According to Buzzfeed, he is remembered by Splash Bar, an old employer, as always happy to help those around him.

“He took his time to work with Flagpole, Grant, Vadim and some of the other dancers to improve their moves and was quick with a smile,” they reported.

Others took to social media to lament his passing.

“I writhed in bed for hours in my head wrapped in all of this,” friend Matt Molandes said, according to Buzzfeed. “Sleep was nearly impossible and waking up to the news that Xavier E. Serrano has passed, it’s soul crushing. My heart aches for his family and Wilma Lozano and their beautiful baby boy. I’m am so happy you are no longer in pain, but this entire world feels the impact of you not being here. Look over us, watch over us, we live in your name.”

He is survived by a young son.


Miguel Angel Honorato, 30 years old

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Credit: Miguel Honorato/Facebook

Miguel’s brother, Enrique, took to Facebook to reminisce about their trips to Mexico and to Tennessee, noting that Miguel loved mango lemonades from Auntie Anne’s.

R.I.P Brother Miguel Honorato, man i wouldve never thought this would happen to you… I remember the good old times…

Posted by Enrique Ezequiel Honorato on Monday, June 13, 2016

Credit:Enrique Ezeguiel Honorato/Facebook

Enrique L. Rios, Jr., 25 years old

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Credit: Jackiii Rios/Facebook

Brooklyn native Enrique is survived by his mother and five siblings. His mother shared that Enrique had been in Orlando for vacation and has set up a GoFundMe page to help with transportation and funeral costs.

The 25-year-old was on vacation in Orlando. He studied social work at St. Francis College and was working at True Care Home Health Care Agency at the time of his untimely passing.


Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37 years old

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Credit: Juan P. Rivera/Facebook

Originally from Puerto Rico, Juan owned a spa and salon in Kissimmee, Florida.

“It is very hard to deal with this and the worse pain is the pain of being here without knowing what happened to him,” Baron Serrano, his brother, told the New York Times as he waited at the hospital to find out what had happened to Juan.


Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25 years old

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Credit: Silva Gilbert/Facebook

Originally from Manati, Puerto Rico, Gilberto had come to Orlando to pursue his studies in healthcare management. He was at Pulse with his friend, “Peter Ommy” Cruz, who was also killed during the shooting.


Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40 years old

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Credit: Harvey George King/Facebook

A supervisor at Gucci, Javier is remembered by his close friend as having a contagious smile and “making me feel like a beautiful woman and mother even on days I couldn’t see it.”

Today I woke up to the news I spent all night hoping not to hear! An old and dear friend lost his precious life in the…

Posted by Ellen Taaffe on Monday, June 13, 2016

Javier had studied tourism at the Academia San Antonio de Guayama in Puerto Rico. A co-worker took to Facebook to thank Javier for his humor and “for all the talks and advice on pursuing my passion.”


Cory James Connell, 21 years old

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Credit: Cory Connell/Facebook

Cory was studying Sports Journalism and Broadcasting at Valencia Community College, and is described by family members as a “superhero.” His family has taken to his Facebook page to express their sense of loss and how much he meant to them.

Cory Connell im doing my best to be as strong as i can man. But being here without you man. Its tough. I can you feel…

Posted by Ryan Connell on Monday, June 13, 2016

Credit: Ryan Connell/Facebook

Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19 years old

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Credit: Joseph Bebe/Facebook

One of the youngest casualties from the shooting, Jason called his mother as shots rang out. Jason was a student at Valencia College, studying computer science.

He was still figuring who he was, and prior to his passing, he’d started developing new passions

“He mentioned to me that he wanted to start taking pictures, he had a passion for photography,” Christopher Long, his uncle, told the Orlando Sentinel. “He was just real special.”

On Facebook, he tended to express self-love and positivity.

i love myself so much right now i really really do ??????

Posted by Jason Bebe on Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Credit: Jason Bebe/Facebook

Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, 24 years old

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Credit: Jonathan A. Camuy/Facebook

Jonathan, who had moved from Puerto Rico to Miami, worked on the Telemundo show “La Voz Kids.” He was a proud member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.

On Monday, Telemundo tweeted their condolences.

Credit: TelemundoNews/Twitter

Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33 years old

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Credit: Shane Tomlinson/Facebook

A graduate of East Carolina University, Shane managed and sang in the Orlando-based Frequency Band. His Facebook bio describes him as an “ordinary guy living an extra-ordinary life using my God-given gift to navigate through this journey.”

Here is Shane performing with his band:

A little snippet from our shoot last night.

Thank You All ?

Posted by Frequency Band on Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Credit: Frequency Band/Facebook

Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25 years old

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Credit: Tevin Crosby/Facebook

Though young, Michigan native Tevin owned his own business. His brother Chavis described him as “very ambitious,” telling the Orlando Sentinel that “[w]hatever goal he had in mind, he worked hard. Whether alone or on a team, he worked on that goal.”

Oscar A. Aracena-Montero, 26 years old

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Credit: Oscar Aracena/Facebook

Oscar’s cousin remembered him on Facebook as being a humble and inspiring young man who will be missed dearily. Oscar was at Pulse with his partner Simon, and the two were remembered by a mutual friend who shared that she will miss “the arepas you made for me with so much love, our conversations” and the advice that they shared.

Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, 31 years old

Simon, who lost his life alongside Oscar, leaves behind a Facebook page that offers a portrait of a young man who loved the beach and who adored and was adored by his family and friends. According to a friend’s post, Simon and Oscar had recently found a home together. Another friend posted that their passing has taken a huge toll, calling them both “princes” and promising that they’d never be forgotten.

Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, 49 years old

Brenda was a mother of 12 who had beat cancer not once, but twice. She was at Pulse with her son, who survived the shooting. The Orlando Sentinel reports that, that night, Brenda had been sharing videos from the club on Facebook, showing happy couples dancing to Latin music.

Our hearts are with you, Orlando. Don’t forget to click share.

Here’s What My White Husband Has Learned About The Latino Culture One Day At A Time

relationships

Here’s What My White Husband Has Learned About The Latino Culture One Day At A Time

My husband and I have been married for a little over three years now and he is still learning so much about myself and what it means to be Latino. I’m not talking about me having a big Cuban family all stationed in Miami (3-0-5 🙌🏽) or the fact that the best jokes in Netflix’s “One Day At A Time” are in Spanish. I’m talking about the little things that to me have always been a normal part of life. This is what has continuously caught him off guard…

If you ask him, I’m already turning into my abuela because of the things he is finding out, which to me is a compliment. Here are just a few of the things that he is starting to understand about our future together.

1. Seasoning your beans is hard AF but abuela makes it look easy.

CREDIT: gifnik.com

No matter how many times I try or how many techniques I use, my bean always turn out bland AF. This wouldn’t have been a problem if he didn’t have my abuela’s frijoles negro because now he has a reference point as to what beans are supposed to taste like. Though, he doesn’t cook so my bland beans will have to do.

2. That whole personal space thing is a white construct.

View this post on Instagram

I missed my hot mess buddy!

A post shared by Jorge (@cantstayput) on

One of the first things he realized about being married to a Latino is that all that personal space he once had is gone. I even go into the bathroom to talk to him when he’s in the shower because that’s 👏🏾 how 👏🏾 I 👏🏾 was 👏🏾 raised. 👏🏾

3. Family obligations cannot and will not be avoided.

Even if it means that you have to spend $800 to travel 3,000 miles back home for a weekend for your nephew’s first birthday, there is no getting out of family events. #BasedOnTrueEvents

4. My family raised me to be super eco-friendly (and very frugal).

The first time my husband saw me washing a Ziploc bag he asked if we had run out and that he could get some from the store. My response: “But, like, why do you want to waste money like that?”

5. Selena was and will always be La Reina.

CREDIT: anything-for-selenaaas / Tumblr

I know. I know. How did he not know this before is what you’re thinking, right? But you can’t hold it against him. I don’t think Selena had a very big following in West Virginia. There was no way he could have known that she is more relevant now than ever. Not to mention that she still wins Latin Billboard awards and I play her music nonstop.

6. My abuela’s obsession with reusing containers has been passed down.

After he came down from the initial shock of thinking that I left the sour cream in the Tupperware cabinet overnight, he made a joke about me becoming my abuela. I’ve never been so proud.

7. Calling a loved one “gordo” is not offensive.

View this post on Instagram

@f_uanteik #migordo #iloveyou #happiness #happynights

A post shared by Maka (@makare.92) on

Because, you know, someone calling you “my little fatty” is not okay. Imagine his shock when he heard a family member call me “gordito” in front of him. He was shook.

8. Every chore I do is just an excuse to put on Celia Cruz and dance.

CREDIT: mitú

Sure, I can cook in silence but nothing makes my time in the kitchen more enjoyable than some “La Negra Tiene Tumbao” or “La Vida Es Un Carnaval” blaring in the background. Plus, he is starting to learn some of her greatest hits.

9. Seventy-five percent of Latino cooking is just making that sabor.

To quote my husband: “Oh. So ropa vieja is like making pot roast then you make the flavor (sofrito). Yeah. White people are too lazy to make all that flavor.”

10. Being extra and loud is just in our blood.

I still have that trophy on our desk in the living room and he has mentioned moving it a couple times. Then I stubbed my toe, fall to the floor in tears, and he remembers why it is so prominently displayed.

11. Hot Cheetos are life.

He didn’t know they were so versatile but he’s not upset that we get to eat them all the time.


READ: 14 Things That Happen When A Gringo Marries Into A Latino Family

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As A Queer Latina, I Can’t Praise Showtime Enough For Their Representation In ‘The L Word: Generation Q’

Culture

As A Queer Latina, I Can’t Praise Showtime Enough For Their Representation In ‘The L Word: Generation Q’

The L Word / Showtime

The highly anticipated sequel to Showtime’s iconic lesbian drama series, “The L Word,” is moving far and beyond the Latina tropes and giving us two very different Latinas of different classes, wealth, and family support systems. And they’re in love. The original series was set in West Hollywood, California, a place as sexuality-diverse as it is accessible only to the wealthy, thereby excluding racial diversity. The sequel, however, is set in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles, a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood in East LA that has become the de facto capital of queer for a new generation of LGBTQ+ people. Bette Porter (Jennifer Beals) is running for mayor of Los Angeles, but is facing setbacks because of the queerness of her love life. Shane McCutcheon (Kat Moennig) has become a successful androgynous model, which hasn’t prevented relationship problems with her wife. Alice Pieszecki (Leisha Hailey) has become the new Ellen Degeneres, with a foundation set before her by the talk show host, Alice is able to offer a provocative talk show defined by feminism and queerness instead of just making people laugh. That very show becomes the grounds where we meet Generation Q. We meet two women who work together and are roommates and follow them back into their home to meet their roommates, girlfriends, and very hot property manager.

Instead of a Persian woman playing a Latina, “The L Word: Generation Q” has two main cast members who are Latina and are surrounded by their Latino family members who become the source of support or conflict in their relationship. Relatable already, no?

Dani Nuñez and Sophie Suarez are the central couple to
“Generation Q.”

CREDIT: @ARIENNE_MANDI / INSTAGRAM

Sure, Alice is starting up throuple’s with her girlfriend and her girlfriend’s ex-wife, but that drama feels far too out there to hit home. Dani and Sophie, however, offer a story we’re all familiar with, especially if you, too, are a queer Latina. Dani Nuñez (left) comes from a wealthy background. She is essentially the heiress to her father’s company, Nuñez, Inc, which deals in promoting opioids. In this alternate reality, the Nuñez’s are reflective of the Sackler family, which has faced harsh criticism as the face of the opioid crisis. America has turned to question crisis by questioning the insular morals of a singular family which has built an empire. “Generation Q’ re-envisions that moral conundrum by giving us Dani Nuñez, the Director of Communications of Nuñez, Inc., who begins to question her morals after Bette Porter asks her point-blank: “How do you sleep at night?”

Meanwhile, Sophie’s morals are perfectly aligned in her career as a producer for Alice’s feminist, queer talk show of the same name.

CREDIT: @80SBIANS / TWITTER

Sophie comes from a different class of Latinidad, which includes the perks of a tight-knit family unit. She exudes confidence while wearing a Wildfang coverall suit instead of an expensive business suit. Sophie enjoys the support of her family and knowing exactly who she is and what she wants out of life.

Meanwhile, Dani’s father’s homophobia becomes intolerable for Dani as the two take their relationship to the next level.

CREDIT: @LOGOTV / TWITTER

As a queer Latina literally named Dani with a homophobic father herself, I couldn’t feel more seen by how “Generation Q” portrays the psychological hardships that family homophobia can place on a relationship. Dani grew up with an implicit understanding that if her feelings didn’t fit into her family values, that the only way she could feel and process them was in isolation. That learned behavior trickles into her relationship with Sophie, and Sophie has a problem with it. Sophie’s family is constantly around, supporting them, and openly processing their feelings. There are no secrets.

“Generation Q” illustrates the nuances in how the child of a homophobic parent learns to navigate life and how it has much larger effects on their personal relationships. 

CREDIT: @SHO_THELWORD / TWITTER

So far, the show hasn’t just given us an Afro-Latina and a brown Latina. It’s given us a range of family dynamics that feel so familiar to so many of us. Whether you have Sophie’s family, who’s constantly bringing over tin-foil wrapped homemade food, even on a tour of a ritzy wedding venue, or Dani’s family, who, in order to please them, you have to compromise too much of your self. 

You can stream Showtime’s “The L Word: Generation Q” on Sundays.

READ: ‘The L Word: Generation Q’ Trailer Is Here And There Are Latinas Playing Latinas