Magazine article The New Yorker

The Third Place

Magazine article The New Yorker

The Third Place

Article excerpt

THE THIRD PLACE

In Jackson Heights, there is a cluster of gay bars and clubs on either side of Roosevelt Avenue, with the elevated No. 7 train rumbling down the middle. They are the nucleus of New York's Latino gay scene, especially on Saturday nights, when salsa, merengue, Spanish pop, and house music are blaring, and people come from Long Island, New Jersey, and the Bronx to drink and dance. Mauro Julca moved with his mother and sisters from Lima, Peru, to Mill Basin, Brooklyn, in 2003, and felt isolated until his first boyfriend took him dancing at Club Evolution, a big venue in Jackson Heights. "It was amazing just to go out and see Latin people dancing to Latin music," he said last Wednesday. "It wasn't just the club. It was the whole street."

Julca, who is thirty-four, helps run Latinos Diferentes, an L.G.B.T.Q. organization known to its members as Latinos D. The massacre in Orlando, in which forty-nine people were killed on Latin night at the gay club Pulse, has been particularly destabilizing for the Latino gay community; ninety per cent of the Orlando victims were Latino, of whom twenty-three were Puerto Rican. "You can't help but take it personally," Julca said. He was in the back room of Manhattan Cocktail Lounge, a bar on Roosevelt at Eighty-eighth Street (it's a good place to "pregame" on weekends, he said), making final preparations for a vigil organized by Latinos D. Out on the avenue, dozens of people carried rainbow flags and white roses, and two transgender women from a group called Make the Road held up a banner showing Rosie the Riveter and the words "Mi Existir Es Resistir": "My Existence Is Resistance."

The crowd crammed into the cocktail bar, where Hugo Ovejero, the director of Latinos D., stood under a disco ball and read the names of the dead--"Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, treinta y uno anos . . . Mercedez Marisol Flores, veintiseis anos . . ." After each one, the attendees mumbled, in unison, "Que en paz descanse," or "Rest in peace." Pastor Fabian Arias, from St. Peter's Church, in Manhattan, led a moment of silence, and then the group headed east down Roosevelt Avenue, past Taqueria Chila and Optima Beauty Supply and Crazy Tattoos Corporation. Manuel Buri, a twenty-six-year-old cosmetology student with a blond faux-hawk, said that he hits the bars on Fridays and Saturdays. …

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