This has been a task so tedious that I had to return to it time and time again with hopes of solving the riddle, but to no avail. However, with less than a week left until the final hand-in, I feel as though it is time to settle down on an answer to the question – what are the 12 pieces that form the picture of Orlando. “Orlando” as a written piece provides the reader with 2 possible narratives. Andrea has crafted the poem in a way that allowed for it to achieve that. The written piece can be interpreted as:
- A retelling of the tragic incident. (Analytical)
- Andrea’s personal struggle to cope with the events that transpired. Mention of struggles of growing up/being gay. (Emotional)
Because of this, it has been incredibly difficult to settle for a “definitive” answer – every single one of these interpretations is an incredibly important piece of information, it is bare impossible to throw one away in favour of the other as they all come together to form the real picture:
You can’t really talk about how this event affected queer people without talking about the shooting itself. Avoiding the mention of it potentially heightens the risk of people not understanding what truly happened that night and why it was such a big deal, resulting in it being swept under the rug and ultimately being forgotten in time. The shooting, as awful as it is, is forever cemented as queer history, it is important to remember what happened and the beautiful lives that were lost.
You can’t talk about the shooting itself without considering the individuals that were afflicted by it as that is simply dismissive and overall repulsive. I found it incredibly disgusting how media reports focused more so on the shooter, his history, his struggles and possible reasons as to why he did what he did (and at times, even seemingly providing justification for his actions) as opposed to shedding a light on the never-ending cycle of abuse and discrimination that the LGBTQ+ faces on a daily basis and has faced for decades.
Because of this, I have no choice but to break my final piece into 2 parts, 2 parts that would be displayed as one but represent different aspects of the narrative. One that would focus on the retelling of the events of the unfaithful night and one that would focus on the LGBTQ+ community and the struggles of each individual that identifies as a member of it. Thus – Debris of Heartache in the Bloody Chamber – was conceived.
12 points of narrative to back up the analytical aspect:
- An assault rifle had fired 202 bullets to a gay bar. – indication that a shooting has taken place; specification of the degree of the assault as well as the means.
- The massacre of people who did not leave the dance floor when they heard gunshots. – the first reported instance of open fire.
- People covered in their friends’ blood, sobbing too hard to hide from their own deaths. – gruesome detail that implies the shooter was potentially hunting anyone alive, any sign of life resulted in a shot fired, thus, forcing people to pretend they’re dead.
- “Mommy I’m going to die”, his hand prints in blood on the wall reaching for people dying in the fetal position. – a heartbreaking detail recovered during investigation. This was the last message sent by one of the victims – Eddie Justice, to his mother moments before death.
- A rifle lifted over a bathroom stall. – an approach to killing that the shooter took, confirmed by the survivors as well as video footage.
- Scouring the club for the fastest route to every exit. – the panic that ensued upon the realisation that a shooting had begun, as shown by recovered footage.
- People outside pushing bandannas into bullet wounds. – with a massive number of those afflicted, medical team was not able to take care of everyone at once, therefore alternative methods of patching up were used.
- The first responders entered the Pulse Nightclub after ther massacre in Orlando, they walked through the horrific scene of bodies. – the released bodycam footage revealed an alarming scene of dozens of bodies – both dead and alive – laying on the ground.
- Someone walked to the bodies and asked who was still alive. And hardly anyone put their hand up. – a heartbreaking detail – many of the survivors were still within the walls of the nightclub, pretending to be dead even once the first responders entered the building. Confirmed to be due to fear of being potentially shot.
- Funeral. – Bodies recovered were taken to the morgue and a mourning services and funerals were later held.
- Everyone around me spent that day grieving. – the effect that the shooting had on the community, the country, the world.
- An audience that had spent two hours in line waiting to get through the bad checks and metal detectors. – extreme security measurements implemented post shooting.
Some of these may seem like a reach as they are taken out of the original context and placed into a new one that is derived from the original, however, I do feel as though Andrea was vicariously living out the events of the night with the help of their poem. As a queer individual, I imagine, Andrea could not help but think about what they would’ve done had they been there, or even has had nightmares in which they were trapped in the “bloody chamber”.
12 points of narrative to back up the emotional aspect.
- Some unconscious part of me aware that I had a pulse, that I was alive. – community unity and connection beyond regular comprehension – almost instinctual. The initial hit.
- On stage, I couldn’t keep my hand from covering my heart. – heartbreaking topic, still difficult to dicuss or open up about.
- Everyone around me spent that day grieving and every tear tasted like someone’s dance sweat drying in the morgue. – recollection of the day, its events, easing into a bigger conversation.
- I knew there was a man in the fifth row picking at the seams of a duffel bag. Every few seconds, I died. – the mention of a newly-founded fear of being out and about, paranoia triggered by anything that could potentially repeat the events of Pulse.
- The balcony for the glint of whatever might aim to tear the bodies of the spirits of the boys holding hands or the girls with hair cut short as my temper when rage is a decimal I can actually get to. – Andrea is starting to voice their anger regarding the situation, they’re becoming enraged by what has been done to their community.
- Knowing someone having the best night of her whole life said, “This is my favorite song,” and then a rifle lifted over a bathroom stall and emptied a magazine – Andrea cannot help but mentally go back to the events and think about the last waking moments of some of the victims and how their lives were taken a mere second after.
- Half of us are already dead to our families before we die. Half of us on our knees trying to crawl into the family photo that night on stage. – the struggle LGBTQ+ individuals experience growing up in households in which they are not accepted for who they are, often even shunned or abandoned.
- How many years I spent praying my heart could play dead to the threat was gone to the world changed till history was history, but history just keeps coming for the high, shooting up bodies. – endless hopeful wishing that times would change and that people would be less cruel but as time goes on, history keeps repeating itself over and over again.
- They’re just unanswered calls to people who claim their God, their apathy, is unwilling to accept the charges. – Andrea’s struggle to understand how anyone could justify any of what happened to their community using the word of God.
- Dear God, how broke do you have to be to not buy people. – Andrea’s struggle to understand God and how they work, questioning their integrity and righteousness. Andrea is spiritual, but has long rejected the ways of Christianity.
- The only place they ever thought was safe and the only place they thought they did not have to hide in, the only place they were wanted because, because of who they loved, and how they loved. – the Pulse nighclub, for many gay residents of Orlando was a safe space where they could truly express and be themselves. Soon to be taken from them.
- Till someone walked to the bodies and asked who was still alive. And hardly anyone put their hand up. – the author mentions this instance once more in the poem, namely in the end, possibly to put more emphasis on the fact that most of the people mentioned had accepted that they would die, some wishing they would die so that the hurt would go away and that they would never have to face the hateful world that they live in ever again.
Analyzing the poem, I did find it interesting how obvious the stages of grief were portrayed within it. At the moment of writing the poem, though, Andrea definitely had only reached the depression stage as no sign of acceptance was present within the piece.
The way I want to use the 2 narratives within my final piece is: creating a part of it that would symbolize the analytical nature of the poem, and a part that would symbolize the emotional aspect. I feel it is important to capture both or else it would not be doing the poem any justice.