Vinny L. Chulani, M.D., was in disbelief when he heard about the mass shooting at
Pulse nightclub in Orlando.
“I remember sitting in bed that Sunday morning just stunned,” he said.
Dr. Chulani had recently moved from Orlando to Phoenix and had deep ties to the nightclub,
a popular spot for the LGBT community.
“Pulse was part of my neighborhood and community,” he said. “Not only did I drive
past the club every day to and from work, we were friends with the owners. I remember
the times I spent there.”
Dr. Chulani will lead a seminar titled “Building LGBTQ Youth Resilience: Lessons Learned
From Pulse Orlando” from 8:30-10 a.m. Monday, Nov. 5, (S3048) and from 8:30-10 a.m.
Tuesday, Nov. 6, (S4022) in room W308CD of the convention center.
Clubgoers were enjoying Latin night on June 12, 2016, when 49 people were gunned down.
Many victims not only were sexual minority but also racial/ethnic minority group members.
During the session, Dr. Chulani will discuss the process of sexual identity development
and how the experience of being a sexual minority is influenced by one’s other identities
such as race and ethnicity.
“Racial/ethnic minority LGBT youth have to develop both their sexual and racial/ethnic
identities as they develop their overall identity,” said Dr. Chulani, chief of the
Section of Adolescent Medicine at Phoenix Children’s Hospital. “And as members of
intersecting marginalized groups, they may encounter stigma at multiple levels, which
can influence their identity formation, their lived experiences and their life trajectories.
For Latinx (Latino and Latina) LGBT youth, for example, dealing with heterosexism
and homophobia within their ethnic communities can be especially challenging.”
The seminar will include a panel discussion with Lori Pampilo Harris, former senior
adviser on homelessness and social services to Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer; Razi Lara,
a board member of the Contigo Fund, which provides grants to Central Florida agencies
supporting LGBT equity and racial justice; and Jennifer Foster, founding executive
director of One Orlando Alliance, which unifies and empowers LGBTQ+ organizations
in Central Florida.
While discussions about racial/ethnic minority LGBT youths often are framed in negatives
such as family rejection, victimization and poor outcomes, pediatricians should focus
on resiliency and strength-based approaches with youths.
“There is also a lot we can learn about community resiliency in the Orlando community’s
response to the Pulse tragedy,” Dr. Chulani said.
Racial and ethnic minority LGBT youths describe a number of resiliency strategies,
including securing safe spaces and finding community — something the Pulse victims
and survivors had found.
“It’s important for us to take a look at Pulse not just as a nightclub but as community,”
Dr. Chulani said. “It is also important that we learn how to promote LGBT youth resiliency,
especially for youth at the intersections of oppressed identities. We need to promote
positive self-concepts, connections and community-building — all essential supports
for positive outcomes.”