A vigil outside the United States embassy in Mexico City was quickly announced on Sunday, after word spread on social media about the 49 who were killed in the shooting at Pulse, an Orlando nightclub, the worst mass murder in the United States since 9/11.
“We can’t keep living like second class citizens,” one man told a crowd, a bit sparse due to the rapid fire planning of the event. Mourners lined up on the street, wearing rainbow and Mexican flags.
“It’s important to remember that all religions have condemned us, persecuted us,” said a woman, speaking into a microphone that was passed around about politicians and the media’s attempts to paint the tragedy as the work of Islamic terrorism.
It was clear that, as with the rest of the world, Mexicans were being emotionally impacted by the hate crime perpetrated by a killer who, recent reports claim, was himself a closeted gay or bisexual man who had frequented Pulse in the months leading up to the killing.
The killer’s parents told police that he had been enraged after seeing two men kissing in Miami.
“I can’t write frivolities after what took place in Orlando,” wrote Televisa’s first openly queer host and producer Mario Lafontaine. “I can’t find the sufficient words to describe the immense hurt and sadness that some of us human beings feel beyond our preferences.”
“Strength, brothers and sisters,” posted Mexico City queer event collective Traición on its Facebook page Sunday. “Keep your head up, celebrate that we’re still here. Let’s dance together, kiss each other and be happy. WITHOUT FEAR.”
President Enrique Peña Nieto spoke out against the violent act, offering the country’s support to the families of the victims. He condemned the use of “words that only divide, generate confrontation and provoke violence.”
One government official in Jalisco lost his job after making homophobic comments on social media about the disaster. “Too bad it was 50 and not 100,” wrote José de Jesús Manzo Corona. In the uproar caused by the comments, the state’s governor asked for and received his immediate dismissal.
Four Mexican citizens were killed in the tragedy, with one left in serious condition after shooter Omar Mateen’s bloody, three-hour stand off with law enforcement. The Foreign Relations Secretariat (SRE) confirmed that the office would be in charge of transporting the victims’ remains to their country of birth.
But some felt stung that a similar outpouring of global support and mourning did not take place last month, when multiple shooters entered Xalapa’s Bar Madame, gunning down five patrons of the gay bar.
“EPN mourns for three Mexicans assassinated in Orlando,” posted Twitter user Abraham Mendoza. “I wish that he had also mourned the six victims in Bar Madame in Xalapa.”
EPN se lamenta por 3 mexicanos asesinados en Orlando. Ojalá también hubiera lamentado a los 6 muertos en el Bar Madame en Xalapa.
— ㄗrometeo (@Prometeico) June 13, 2016
Mexico City’s church-themed gay mega-club Purísima mourned the victims of both crimes. “What happened in Xalapa and Orlando cannot make us unconnected. No more hate crimes #StopHomophobia.”
Los acontecimientos en Xalapa y en Orlando no nos pueden ser ajenos
No más crímenes de odio#StopHomophobia
— La Purísima (@La_purisima) June 12, 2016
For some, the best response was that of love. Mexico City artist Jovan Israel posted a image to Tumblr that was part of a project by photographer Sebastian Hernández of the two kissing.
A statement from Hernández accompanied the piece, saying “I kept doubting the strength of my photos, but today was a clear indicator that something so simple such as a kiss can cause so much anger and hate.”