Cuarenta y Nueve is how to say 49 in Spanish. This is a book by 49 artists in honor and in dedication to the 49 lives taken at the Pulse Club in Orlando on June 12, 2016. This remains the deadliest attack on LGBTQ people, on North American soil, to date.
I was honored to be one of the 49 artists chosen to submit and participate in the book, Cuarente Y Nueve. Author Joie Lamar edited and orchestrated this enormous effort, with 100% of the proceeds being donated to two LGBTQ organizations- Pride School Atlanta and GLAAD.
Pride School Atlanta Mission Statement: The Mission of Pride School Atlanta, Inc. is to provide LGBTQQIAA* educators, students and families a rigorous and fun learning environment, free of homophobia and transphobia – a place that honors their identities so they may be themselves, find themselves, and find friends and mentors who can help them navigate the challenges of life and education. (From Pride School Atlanta website).
GLAAD: GLAAD rewrites the script for LGBTQ acceptance. As a dynamic media force, GLAAD tackles tough issues to shape the narrative and provoke dialogue that leads to cultural change. GLAAD protects all that has been accomplished and creates a world where everyone can live the life they love. (from GLAAD website).
I am asking people to share this post and the links. Let others know that 100% of the proceeds are going toward queer youth, education, outreach, and support of LGBTQ lives through both organizations. It is a living memory to the 49 who were taken that night in Orlando. May we never forget, and may we find a way to stop the massacres that have become commonplace. No mother or child should have to lose a family member to mass violence, because a man picked up a gun, because he hated LGBTQ people. Contributing to this book allowed me to put my grief and energy somewhere, knowing that the proceeds would benefit other queer people, and would be a living monument of sorts, to our brothers and sisters. Forever.
Please purchase the book! Go to these websites for more details: Cuarenta Y Nueve,
Acknowledgments: Kate Johnston, Sonny Rosa, Cat Grant, Antoine Elhashem, Angel Torres, and Natalie Jansz-Lamar. And to the other contributing artists whose names can be found at Cuarenta Y Nueve.
Additional information, book Launches:
–January 27th, 6-8 p.m. at Bar Le Cocktail – 1669, rue Ste-Catherine est, Montreal, Quebec H2L2J5
–New York launch party in March at The Center, 208 W 13 St
New York, NY 10011
–A Toronto launch is also being planned in Feb. 2018, at Gladday Bookshop.
May we find a gentler path. May we learn not to repeat the same mistakes over and over, and may the seeds, plants, energy, fight and dedication to equity from people who have come before us, be remembered, honored and cherished. May we never forget.
With all my love. Condolences to the families, friends, and community members of the 49 people gone.
49 people gone. The piece I wrote, an excerpt from Cuarenta Y Nueve:
They were my brothers and sisters. I light 49 candles for each of them, hold them close to my chest as any mother might hold a dying child to whisper, “I love you,” whisper, “I’m sorry,” whisper, “And now dear child I lay you down to rest, forever a beacon of light for those who come after you, and those you will help on earth through your unintended sacrifice.”
Children will know your names and history books will one day reflect the time when people were so barbaric they slaughtered their own. But now, Orlando, we know your loss and grief will be felt for decades to come, through lovers, mothers and fathers, aunts and siblings and children who lost their parents to a man with a gun.
* * *
49 daughters and sons.
We grieve their deaths as if they were our very own marrow, sinew, heart and bone. So many already survived a childhood of racism, sexism and homophobia, or the streets as teens after being kicked out of their homes. How much sorrow we humans have created with a type of ignorant righteousness that breeds years of grief so many of us must tread to carry on.
The weight of it.
And for all those beings, all those races and genders blended in a common place, a community, in spaces where drink, music, and laughter is shared. Where friendships solidify, where our barriers and secrets or hidden desires fall away on the dance floor for moments of bliss, for a type of wholeness in the presence of those who know exactly who you are. It’s a sacred ground, like others have churches, pastors, healers or mosques. Sanctuary, our bars and dancehalls. The places where lovers embrace and first kisses are felt and women and men slow dance and move together as one. I remember my first dance in a small bar in Toronto with a woman whose name I did not know. She held me tight as if we had known each other forever.
From Selma to Stonewall, Pulse in Orlando is the struggle of Martin Luther King Jr., to a boy named, Mathew Shepard, or Brandon Teena, killed because they loved girls and wanted to be seen, as male- a reminder of the hatred of difference for simply living in the bodies we are given or transforming those bodies and being brave in the face of danger. It takes the courage of warriors or sea turtles that make the great trek from the egg to the ocean, or the refugees that ask, “Please, don’t turn your back,” as their children washed up dead for all to see.
We are as brave as any, and our struggles are not always visible or counted because the shackles and collective acceptance of our misery has been sanctioned by so many- from our brothers and sisters in Iran, Nigeria, Jamaica or Saudi Arabia, to U.S. laws that ban trans-kids from using public facilities or expect them banished by their own families to remain in their Christian churches. Or in rural small towns across Canada and middle America, where derogatory names are hurled in our faces, or where people wave confederate flags without hesitation. Hatred all looks the same, it’s only the targets that change- black, brown, immigrant, women, LGBTQ, where simply “being” is illegal. There is no magic here, no manipulation of the ugly truth. And when LGBTQ people grow up unwanted or hide away their identities in shame-filled bodies, where mothers and fathers rage against them, and when the idea of losing one’s own family or faith is greater than the madness that can grip a man, that inspired him to commit mass murder against those he secretly desired, the queer person the shooter likely wished to be. Trapped. He picked up a gun and killed at will, blaming all that is good and sacred, the 49 whose lives were taken, those who had been through the struggle for acceptance, who had already lost so they could stand in their own skin, courageously becoming whole, holding themselves and other LGBTQ people, even if they lost their families to homophobia, even if it meant standing alone and making the trek across the sand to the sea.
* * *
49 people gone.
We remember each of you and will honor you forever, look up to the sky at night to know your stars will shine. Through grief comes the rise of the sun and we will work harder than ever to achieve our right to live equitably, to be respected, cherished, safe, with liberty and justice. We will expect nothing less and never stop until our work is done.
Rest now, 49, sleep. Goodnight.
-By Joanne Vannicola
(permission to reprint by Joie Lamar.)
(Photograph from Cuarante Y nueve website).