On Saturday, 50 people were killed, and more than 50 more wounded, when a homophobe with an assault rifle opened fire on Latinx night at Pulse, a gay club in Orlando. It was the deadliest mass shooting on American soil, at a place dedicated to making LGBTQ members of society feel safe, accepted, free, and loved. Here’s Richard Kim, executive editor at The Nation, on the importance of havens like Pulse.

By Richard Kim at The Nation:

Before the ’80s were hijacked by hipsters in tiny jackets, Crowbar had a theme night called 1984, which was ridiculously fun. But because I was underage and stupid and felt the need to piss on fun things, I once said something catty there like: “Isn’t it kinda pathetic and weird that all these gays are nostalgic for a decade that ended 10 seconds ago?” And some guy I knew, who I considered ancient but was probably all of 32 at the time, snapped back at me: “Listen, you little piece of shit, we didn’t get to dance to this music the first time. We were burying each other. So take your bad vibes and get the fuck out of here. I need this more than you need to suck!” before twirling, fabulously, away from me and my toxic aura.

That was my first lesson that gay bars are more than just licensed establishments where homosexuals pay to drink. Gay bars are therapy for people who can’t afford therapy; temples for people who lost their religion, or whose religion lost them; vacations for people who can’t go on vacation; homes for folk without families; sanctuaries against aggression. They take sound and fabric and flesh from the ordinary world, and under cover of darkness and the influence of alcohol or drugs, transform it all into something that scrapes up against utopia.

This story was originally published on June 12th, 2016.