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After the 49: Pulse’s Performative Afterlife

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On June 12, 2016, Omar Mateen entered Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, FL and shot and murdered 49 people and wounded over 50 more. At the time, it was the deadliest

On June 12, 2016, Omar Mateen entered Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, FL and shot and murdered 49 people and wounded over 50 more. At the time, it was the deadliest mass shooting ever to occur on U.S. soil. That particular evening, Pulse, a queer nightclub, was hosting a “Latin Night,” which resulted in over 90 percent of the victims being Latinx in descent and many that identified as Afro-Latinx or Black. Essentially, Pulse is the most lethal act of violence against queer and trans bodies of color in this country. Pulse reminds queer and trans people of color of the conditions of the world that position Brown and Black queer and trans death as mundane. That is to say, the lives of trans and queer bodies of color are lived in close proximity to death. And yet, Pulse was anything but mundane. In every practical sense, it was a fantastical event of radical violence. The tension between these and the implications found within is what this project seeks to engage. Utilizing critical/performance-based qualitative methods and data derived from the queer and trans of color communities in Phoenix, AZ, this project investigates the performative afterlife of Pulse. I apply and name the term performative afterlife to suggest that the events at Pulse are connected to material conditions and consequences that get performed by and through queer and trans bodies of color. Interlocutors share the afterlife is performed within the context of ubiquitous whiteness found in Phoenix, often manifesting as a survival mechanism. Additionally, many interlocutors express the mundane threat of violence everyday has prevented a thorough engagement of what it means to live in a world after the events at Pulse nightclub have occurred. Ultimately, the performative afterlife of Pulse gets performed by queer and trans bodies of color in Phoenix through a co-performance between one another. Much like the dancing that occurred at Pulse, the performative afterlife is a performance that moves the world towards queer or color futures not yet here.

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  • 2020