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Remembering Orlando, one year on

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Looking back at the Pulse shooting, one year later.

Today marks the one year anniversary of the horrific attack at Pulse, an LGBT+ nightclub in Orlando. That night, 49 people lost their lives and 53 others were injured. 365 days later, we still mourn the loss.

We spoke to four wonderful lesbian and bisexual women about that tragic event. Their comments were insightful, inspiring and important. Now we want to share what they told us with you:

Marcia X, artist @artistmarciax (photo by Rogelio Baéz Vega)

marcia-x orlando

“Pulse has not left my thoughts since the news broke, and nor has my frustration at the media which continues to ignore important facts about the victims. Right now, a hot morning in Puerto Rico, the sun comes through the windows and I know the island grieves; mothers from this country have been profoundly hurt time and time again. Not just by racist legislative practices from the local government and its colonial master, but from those ‘fellow Americans’ who do not see us as human beings. I have spent the last in year in constant mourning, I have attempted to make a piece of art that allows me to work through that pain and trauma. Nothing seems more fitting to be here, in Puerto Rico, La Isla del Encanto, to give memory to all the victims and their families on the day of its anniversary.”

 

Phyll Opoku-Gyimah, Co-Founder & Executive Director of UK Black Pride @MsLadyPhyll

phyll orlando

“UK Black Pride pays tribute to the victims of those who tragically lost their lives and were injured in the Orlando shooting last year. We send our condolences to those who are living with the loss of loved ones.  The LGBTIQ community was shocked by this horrific attack on this club situated in the Latino community, a space which should be a place of joy and acceptance, not death and murder. The response from LGBTIQ communities, our friends and allies across America and across the world, to this heartless act was the best response; unity vigils, condolences and offers of support for those who were affected.

“We will and we must continue to reject hate crimes against LGBTIQ people here and abroad!”

 

Ruth Hunt, CEO of Stonewall @ruth_hunt

ruth hunt orlando

“Lesbian, gay, bi and trans people across the world responded to the Orlando attack in the way we know best – with love and solidarity. Our ability to come together as a community in the face of adversity and be united and protect one another is just one of the things that makes us so special.

“We’ve come a long way together, but there are still hurdles ahead – not everyone is free to be themselves yet, and not everyone feels safe. We must not be separated by our differences; LGBT people exists in every community, and we must not allow people to convince us that this is otherwise. We must stand by the side of every single LGBT person, wherever they live, work and pray. This is the only way we can make progress and create a world where everyone is accepted without exception.”

 

Vicky Beeching, writer, broadcaster and campaigner for LGBT rights @vickybeeching

vicky beeching orlando

“The Orlando attack feels so raw, shocking, and painful in most of our minds and hearts that it’s hard to believe it’s been a year – it feels like yesterday. 

The LGBT+ community has rallied together in powerful ways as a result. So, I believe the shooting had the opposite effect than was intended; instead of driving people apart, and stirring up discrimination and fear, it has brought us closer and increased love and unity. 

Orlando seemed to be a turning point in many traditional faith communities; pastors, priests, and leaders who had never spoken up about LGBT issues before, made public statements about how grieved they were over the horrific attack and aligned themselves with LGBT rights for the first time. 

Since taking that step, many of those priests and pastors have continued to speak out, with growing courage, about the need for the church to embrace same-sex relationships, and to realise the high levels of discrimination that LGBT people face around the world. 

It should never take a tragedy to create such a change, but I think the shock of the shooting woke faith communities up; to realise they can’t be silent bystanders anymore; to see that everyone needs to speak up against discrimination, wherever it is found in society.

As we all remember Orlando, and continue to carry the pain of it in our hearts, may it draw us closer together. This year at Pride, we will march as a sign that terrorist attacks will never make us silent or afraid – and to show that love always wins.”

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