New York’s LGBTQ Nightlife Luminaries Speak Out about Orlando
MEANS features an insightful iD exploration of how the tragedy has impacted the community, in the words of living legends from JD Samson to Mike Q to Kim Ann Foxman and DJ Mazurbate.
JD Samson, Lauren Flax, Nicole Sky, Luiza Sa-Davis, Jo Lampert, and Mike Q at the Stonewall. Photo by Christelle De Castro
Less than twenty-four hours after Omar Mateen committed the largest mass killing of gay people in American history at Orlando nightclub Pulse, the New York LGBTQ community gathered to dance cathartically at the weekly party Battle Hymn. Between the sets of beloved DJs Honey Dijon and Michael Magnan, high priestess of downtown nightlife Ladyfag took the mic. "I'm angry because no matter what I do, there's nothing I can do to protect you from crazy people," she said. Calling for inclusiveness as the crowd cheered, she continued, "This is your fucking home. Look around you. This is your community. In Florida, if it happened to them, it happened to us. We are all one." The entire club joined hands for a moment of silence, which is kind of a big deal at a raucous party like Battle Hymn. That sense of unity is characteristic of the big-hearted, creative New York nightlife community, many of whom speak out here about the hate crime's impact on their world. Through the incomprehension, the pain, and the rage, they will continue to come together at New York queer spaces, to dance, play music, and find love. Because that can't be stopped.
Michael Magnan, DJ, artist
"I can't even begin to get into my feelings on the perverted gun culture in this country, we don't have time. But moving forward we simply need to keep a watchful eye out for each other. Whether it's in the club, on the subway or out in public, we need to be aware of our surroundings and be ready to stand up and protect our kin. It's easy in New York to get lost in the fantasy of being your true self but the sad truth is that even here and most everywhere in this country we are still surrounded by people who hate and fear us. What happened at Pulse happened to all of us and right now we need to watch out for each other more than ever. In terms of healing, we need to carry on as we do best and hopefully make a conscious effort to make every small action one of spreading positivity and love."
JD Samson, DJ, producer, artist
"It is often that I ponder the purpose of my life. What am I here to do? What is next for me as an activist, as a human being? A few weeks ago while flying from one Pride party in Brussels to another massive queer party in Lyon, I began an essay about my practice of promoting and DJing to the LGBTQI community. The writing was triggered by the realization that many people don't experience my nightlife work as political or have forgotten how important queer space can be. I think in a lot of ways I was writing it for myself, as well. To remember that in my eyes, every single beat I play, every DJ that I hire, and every single party I develop comes from a deep place of activism for me. For the past 18 years I have dedicated myself to creating safe spaces for queers to dance and sweat together. To enjoy each other, and to take up space. To celebrate our bodies, our melodies, our identities, and to enjoy our family. No questions asked. This horrendous hate crime against the QPOC community reminds me that we need this work to go on. That I must go on. That I'm doing exactly what I should be doing with my time, and my heart, and that I will not stop creating a space where we can express ourselves, be more visible, and feel united as a team. Even though I feel too devastated to dance, I'm sure I will get there soon enough... I have a gig tonight."
Lauren Flax, DJ, producer
"I have been going through so many ranges of emotions and sadness over this. They come in waves. The gay community is no stranger to violence unfortunately, but it doesn't make it any easier. I know that for me, I need to be around my community more than ever. This is our opportunity to stand together in a united front. I stand with the Muslim community just as they stand with us against terrorism. Against violence and hate. This is a hate crime first and foremost. I feel almost lost in that the gay club, a place that is supposed to be our safe haven, was brutally violated. It's a place where we can express ourselves without conflict. It hurts so badly to know that they got us in our home, in our church, in our sanctuary. Along with anyone else with love and kindness in their heart, I'm shaken up and devastated. It's been a brutal reminder of just how far we have to go."
Greg Krelenstein, DJ, editorial director at Starworks Group
"We can't live our lives in fear and it doesn't stop me from wanting to play music in a club and see friends. For a community that has made so many advancements, there's still so much hate in the world and all we can do is raise even more awareness and educate people."
Kim Ann Foxman, DJ, producer
"What we need is LOVE, not guns. I'm shocked and devastated about the Orlando shooting. I'm sending all my love to Orlando and to all the LGBTQ community. We do not deserve to be victims and targets of hate crimes because of who we love. And it should not be so easy for people to get guns in America. This really needs to change. We have to continue to fight hate and ignorance with love and compassion."
Luiza Sá-Davis, musician, CSS
"What kind of world are we in? There are so many things happening right now that are difficult, enemies of what I believe in, hate and fear. I need to be close to you, I need to remember the beauty, the truth, the magical space between us, the progress, the love, the freedom, the respect, my family of fellow humans. As the shooting occurred, I was at a beautiful gay wedding, celebrating. What luck to be able to celebrate legally in this time we live in. What strange and dark these times can be.
I need the support, the community, to keep living in truth, respect, love, and freedom. I am deeply touched by how all of my straight friends and family take this personally, because it is personal. It is all of us, just like all the people dying and suffering right now for many different reasons. Take it personally. Remember it. Talk about it. There are refugees dying every day right now. People trying to escape war. This kind of violence touches a lot of people every day. Have this bring you closer to your fellow human beings. Remind me we stand with strength and love. I still believe I am lucky to be alive in this day and age. Stop hate. Stop gun violence."
Honey Dijon, DJ
"I am still trying to wrap my head around the senselessness and brutality of what happened in Orlando at Pulse. As a person who basically has spent the majority of her life in clubs it really hit so close to home. It could have been me or any of my friends and that's why I feel it affected our community so deeply. We saw ourselves and felt anger in our helplessness and also fear because the club is supposed to be a safe haven from the outside world. A place to be yourself, dance, laugh, and love without shame or judgment. This is about power and fear, two things religion and people who take lives in its name are very good at. The fact that it's harder [in the US than in other countries] to get through customs at the airport and easier to legally buy an AR-15 assault rifle speaks volumes. I am just devastated and I hope that this is a wakeup call, especially to those in the US, that this is not something that happens to other people in foreign places, it can happen anywhere and at any time. When it happens to one of us it happens to all of us."
Mike Q, DJ, producer, Fade to Mind
"The tragedy that happened in Orlando affects us all but especially the gay community and the victims and their families. For me it's very close to home because it could have been me or somebody I knew easily, as I have pretty much been in a gay club every single week for the past 13 years DJing. This has been a wakeup call within the LGBTQ community that we all have to stick together because at any time any of us can lose our life not to just shootings but but also to many types of homophobic violence, disease, and suicide. So moving forward I hope this can all just bring us TOGETHER."
Drew Citron, musician, Beverly
"From the steps of the vigil at Stonewall to the penthouse of Trump Tower, the revolution is real and it's happening. We're not going back. I'm lucky enough to live in a city that paved the way for LGBTQ civil rights. Every milestone is a beautiful, hard-earned one, when thousands take to the streets and rejoice, sing, dance, loving whom and how they want to. I'm lucky to live in a city where Pride is still my favorite holiday. It's true family, out and loud on the turf that we've won, and yet we are forced to defend it at every turn. In the unutterable sadness that weighs on us this week, as we heal our communities and hold each other safe and close, I urge everyone to be mindful. Be mindful of the hateful speech of politicians, leaders, news outlets. Do not emulate this behavior. Be gentle with others. Be kind, give love. There is vicious hate speech and ignorance in our country. Do not counteract it with hatred. Let anger pass through you and mutate into something stronger, more vivid, external, and positive. Our strength is in our bodies — just being ourselves, as we have always and will continue to do without fear — banding together, in love and solidarity. Choose love."
Jo Lampert, musician, artist
"All I can do right now is think about and talk about our lost brothers and sisters — incant them by name, send their families electric love across a telepathic desert. I want to look everyone I pass in the eye. We must all continue to humanize one another. In the face of being targets of demented ignorance and hate, we commune in spreading Love. I can think of nothing more important in this moment than mourning communally — and transforming our grief into action. Coming together, congregating in our community's sacred safe spaces, to build bridges and not walls in the face of this confounding sadness. I love us. I love the fallen heroes — innocent gifts to this universe — in Orlando. We are one. We must remain as one."
Matthew Mazur/DJ Mazurbate
"When I heard about Orlando I was really thrown off guard. I was a victim of a hate crime this past December while I was in Miami which affected me to feel things I thought were dealt with. Once more news came out about it, it made me realize that we cannot hide, and we cannot let anybody change who we are...