When a gunman opened fire last Sunday in Orlando, Florida gay nightclub Pulse, killing at least 49 and injuring 53, the event seemed singular in its senseless hate for LGBTQ people. But just three weeks before, a similar scene unfolded at a gay club in Xalapa, Veracruz.
According to TeleSur, multiple armed men entered La Madame on May 22, killing seven people and injuring at least 12 after firing into a packed club of about 180. Excelsior, a Mexican daily newspaper, reported that the gunmen fled the scene immediately following the attack, at which point the injured called for help and spread word of the shooting on social media.
Paramedics struggled to find hospitals to receive the victims as the staff on duty claimed there weren't enough of them to handle the scale of the emergency.
When the secretary of public security pointed to a "territorial fight over drug sales," according to TeleSur, he drew criticism from LGBTQ activists who accused him of overlooking the inherently homophobic nature of the attack.
Similarly, following the Orlando shooting, there continues to be debate over whether the massacre should be termed terrorism or a hate crime. And what's more, many politicians continue to talk about the event as an attack on the general American people, instead of noting that gunman Omar Mateen targeted LGBTQ people specifically.
Just a few days before the La Madame shooting, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto signed a constitutional reform that cleared a path for legislators to legalize same-sex marriage in the country. The same reform also allowed transgender citizens to change their gender on their birth certificates to that which corresponds with their gender identity. But as Mexico continues to take steps toward equality for its LGBTQ population, the massacre proved, especially for victims' families, that there was still a long way to go.
"Our dream was to see him become a lawyer, to see him return with a degree and a job," the uncle of Luis Donaldo Rivera Calderón, who died in May's attack, told Sin Embargo. "In the end, he returned, but dead. Those weren't our plans."