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  • I Also Want More
  • Kimberlee Pérez (bio)

As I take in the unfolding accounts from Pulse in Orlando, Florida, of “what happened,” “what is happening,” “what we know now,” and “now,” and “now” on Sunday, June 12, 2016, my witnessing queer Chicana body in Amherst, Massachusetts, slips into a familiar state of post-trauma. In moments I dissociate, which, to me, means floating above where my body, is, watching myself watch and listen. I know it isn’t happening to me, this violence and its aftermath, and I do not feel like it is happening to me. I do not know that experience of being shot at, being near gunfire. I do know the experience of fear, of a body under threat. I know the experience of being a passing, cis-, queer Chicana, part of a queer Latinx public, in a racist and homophobic and normative public. I know the erotics and pleasures of a queer bar. I know the ecstatic rupture that moves through a body in relation to other bodies as well as I know how abruptly those moments can erupt through an unsolicited gaze, an unwelcome touch, an internalized anticipation of violence. I think this is what my body is reacting to, the memory of my own experience, and the resonance with my relations in these publics, as I lay materially safe in my own body in my own bed. During this day I alternate in this post-trauma state between dissociation and wracking sobs that wrench my body in half. I talk to a dear friend on a scheduled “work” call and his voice, the mingling of our voices brings company, and in some moments, comfort. I want his body next to mine, holding mine, longing for our imagined portal. His love, his voice, is enough, and, I also wanted more.

That night I dream through and beyond the representations of the mass mediated accounts, accounts of an unfolding “what happened,” “what is happening,” and “what we know now,” and “now” and again, “now.” These accounts record a [End Page 126] rising death count that will ultimately reach 49, and of 53 wounded. These accounts represent and communicate, to the extent that it is possible to do so at all, the trauma of violence, terror, death, witnessing, presence. These accounts are unable to represent, and can only gesture to the loss, the mourning, the devastation and the rage sustained and ensured by those relations, known and unknown, those bodies and relations, known and unknown, who absorb the blows of a sudden, violent, absence, and those bodies and relations, known and unknown, who stand in relation to those survivors whose embodied experience of trauma, whose scars are visible and unseen, those bodies who are and are not recorded in death or injured counts, will be unknown and unpredictable for an indeterminate time. That night I dream into the club, with the bullets, and after the club with the ancestors. That night I pray to and with the ancestors. I also wanted more.

In the days after Sunday, June 12, 2016, I watch in detached rage as the faces of the dead appeared in checkered rows on multiple screens. Like the Brady Bunch. Like mug shots. I do not read their stories. That’s a lie. I start to read a story. And then I cry. And then I stop reading. And I get angry. And I am afraid. And I panic. I project. What if they’re not out? I’m not out. To my family. To most of my family. It’s not that I’m not out. In public. Just not that public. An uneasy settling into my choices between and among belongings, dependencies, kinships, sifting through temporary homes. What if they’re not out? I fear that the features of their faces, their stories, reduce too much the personal, eclipse the structural. Homophobia. Racism. Xenophobia. Heteronormativity. Transphobia. Sexism. The stories soon emerge. The parents refusing the body of a now known queer child. The people who find out their kin is gay and dead in the same sentence. And the white (perceived? Again, projected?) queer backlash of “those” homophobic Latino/as.1 Again...


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pp. 126-128
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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