Today (June 12, 2021), we send our love to our friends & family in the LGBTQ+, Latinx, allies, and all others affected— as it’s been 5 years since we lost 49 beautiful souls during the Pulse NightClub Shooting. On June 12, 2016 a gunman opened fire, taking 49 innocent lives and injuring over 60 more at Pulse, one of Orlando, Florida’s most popular LGBT+ nightclubs, during its Latin night. This event is considered the second most deadly attack, and the largest attack against the LGBTQ+ community in the United States. LGBTQ+ night clubs have been a safe haven for many LGBTQ+ people along with allies to go out, dance, have fun without worry of discrimination for over 50 years.
Lake Eola Fountain
This tragic event changed the atmosphere for club goers, but the Orlando community demonstrated why it has been nicknamed the City Beautiful; as they responded with love, action, and hope. This event hit home for me as I had been living in Orlando for almost 8 months, and for the first time in my life I had felt scared. I’ve been fortunate to experience little discrimination since I came out, but in that moment I realized how easily I could have been a target of hate and violence.
In the latter part of the morning of June 12th, I woke up to an alarm as my girlfriend at the time had to work. I checked my phone, saw a news update and thought to myself “Oh, standard shooting.” Then it all sank in. This was not a (unfortunately in the US) standard shooting. This was in my new home city and against my community. Pulse was about 5 of 10 minutes at the most from my home at the time. I had several friends who were at Pulse that night, and I prayed that I hadn’t lost them. Thankfully, they left about an hour before the tragic event happened. I remember waking up my girlfriend at the time to deliver the news. We both immediately went to social media to check on everyone we knew who might have been at Pulse and prayed we didn’t lose them. We were fortunate in our personal friend circles, but we both knew our community was not as lucky.
Our phones would constantly receive notifications with friends and family checking in, along with learning all the calls for help and support. The Orlando community responded by packing blood donation lines, donating supplies to blood donors who waited tirelessly in the Florida heat to donate along with doing whatever could be done to help the families who lost someone and the victims that held on for life.
I can’t forget about the support I saw from the Orlando Gay Chorus . I’ve been an active singing member since 2015 and their response to help heal with song was truly inspirational. Several members would show up consistently to help with outreach and to do their best to show strength during that tragic time. I regret not singing as much as I could during that time, but I’ve since been determined to make sure I help my community and use my super powers as an openly out educator to ensure that all are loved.
Since the Pulse tragedy, I’ve facilitated many events, many LGBT+ education and training programs, and I sing with an organization that has become my Orlando family. There will always be more I wish I could do or have done, but I can always use my voice— which is where you too can help out. If you’re in the Central Florida area or close by, come visit the many events happening this month by the One Pulse Foundation . If you aren’t able to visit, join the One Orlando Alliance’s Acts of Love and Kindness Movement. This started on April 25th this year and runs until today, but it’s still not too late to participate! You can act through community service, or show love through actions. Take advantage of social media by sharing love with all, and make sure to use the hashtag #actgivelove. You can also give back by donating items to help those in the LGBT+ community. The link above gives many ideas.
Let’s continue the story of what the people of Orlando did in response to these horrific tragedies. Respond with love, hope, and service. ????️????????☮️????️⚧️