AN OPEN LETTER

FROM THE WORKING GROUP LED BY QUEER FUTURES IN RESPONSE TO THE SHOOTINGS AT THE LGBTQI NIGHTCLUB PULSE IN ORLANDO. IFTR 2016

We are deeply saddened by the murders at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida that occurred when hosting a Latino LGBTQI event. We extend our deeply felt condolences to all those affected. We recognise that for many LGBTQI people who face oppression, hatred and violence, nightlife venues represent a rare space in which they feel safe and able to be themselves. The devastating impact of an attack on such a space is felt acutely and painfully by queer people around the world.

We are a diverse group of scholars attending the International Federation of Theatre Research (IFTR) conference in Stockholm. We speak together under the umbrella of the Queer Futures working group. We see that there is strength in diversity: diversity of people, diversity in the way we grieve, and diversity in the way we make sense of this tragedy. Queer scholarship is attached to embodied lives and we employ our academic practice as a tool for meaningful engagement with the wider world. We believe IFTR must be relevant to people’s lives, consciously embracing diversity and speaking out against oppression, strengthening connections between the academy and the wider world. This letter is symbolic of our collective efforts to engage with the multiplicity of issues surrounding this violent attack.

Our desire is to carry forward the complexity of the tragedy in Orlando rather than accept simplistic definitive narratives emerging from media hyperbole. Our narrative recognises the diversity and intersectionality of issues that surround this tragedy and we hope this recognition will galvanise us to raise consciousness, resist Islamophobia, xenophobia and homophobia. We resist the dangerous ‘othering’ of the terrorist, which blinds us to state-controlled, structured oppression that creates violence. We will continue to create, affirm and celebrate safe spaces just as we will remain committed to keeping our borders open. We are aware that a need for a Latino night in itself speaks loudly about the inclusivity, or lack thereof, within LGBTQI spaces. It is imperative that we work in solidarity and compassion with a commitment to diversity and openness as we deal with all the questions that the Orlando tragedy poses to us.

We stand in solidarity with the victims of the Orlando shootings and their families.