by Tallon Kennedy

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Photo from Melendez’s GoFundMe page.

Pulse shooting survivor, Leonel Melendez, has returned home and is starting rehab. According to NowThis, Melendez was shot in the head, leg, and foot, and lost consciousness, and was in a coma for about a month. He required multiple surgeries to survive, and is now facing an estimated $600,000 dollars in medical bills.

Melendez’s medical bills are a shocking reality of a country without universal healthcare, and a reminder of the systematic oppressions constructed by class, race, and sexuality. Right now, America is a country where a Latino gay man, who was a victim of one of the deadliest mass shootings in history, a shooting that was specifically targeted to rid the world of gay Latino men, is billed with hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical expenses just to continue living on this planet.

This also acts as a reminder of the ways in which the lack of a universal healthcare law is especially hard on Latino communities. According to Albuquerque Business First, less than half of the Latino population is fully insured, making them the least-insured racial group in America. Also, according to NerdWallet Health, Latinos are 14% more likely to face hardship with medical bills than the average American.

While politicians are co-opting the suffering of Pulse victims like Melendez for a racist discourse in favor of banning muslims from the country, they fail to address the very real issue of Latino families struggling to cover their medical costs.

You can help the Melendez family cover their medical costs by heading to his GoFundMe page: https://www.gofundme.com/297maz8s