On June 28th, 1969 New York City Police raid the Stonewall Inn sparking six long days of riots and a turning point in the fight for gay rights. A year later the first Gay Pride Parades were held in NYC, Chicago, and LA. 47 years later Pride is celebrated not only across the US but across the world. Yesterday our community was rocked by another tragic event.
At 2:09am Sunday morning the Facebook page for Pulse Orlando posted a terrifying message: “Everyone get out of pulse and keep running.” A shooter had entered the club and opened fire. Hours later the terror finally ended just before daybreak and 49 innocent lives were lost. More than 50 others were rushed to area hospitals many in critical condition. Sadly, not all of those who were able to make it out of the club will make it home to their families. Many of us woke, unaware of the events, to a flood of frantic messages and calls from friends and family trying to make sure we were ok or letting us know they were safe. Then we watched, waiting for the names to be released, terrified of who we would see. Pulse is a prominent gay nightclub but has also a source of support to the local community through partnership with a variety of different organizations. It has been a safe space regardless of your orientation, gender, ethnicity, religion, etc.
In the aftermath of this horrible event the community both here locally and world wide has yet again risen up refusing to be silenced. They have stood in solidarity with those in Orlando through their voices and their actions. Across the state people lined up for hours to donate blood while others brought water and food which was in short supply at donation centers. Equality Florida, a locally based LGBT civil rights organization, started a GoFundMe to help the families and survivors financially. In the evening vigils were held both here and abroad to send love to those hurting and to show that we are strong and united. Tonight and in the days to come more vigils are being organized. Tel Aviv, Sydney, and so many other cities across the world are flying flags (including the pride flag) at half mast and lighting their landmarks in support and solidarity.
— GAM (@K__Mendez) June 12, 2016
— Tweet Perth (@tweetperth) June 13, 2016
As we all continue to grieve this horrible event there are ways you can continue to support those effected by this tragedy. If you are local please donate blood if you can in the coming days. Blood is a perishable resource and the hospitals will need to be replenished as they continue to care for those wounded. You can visit oneblooddonor.org to find a location and schedule an appointment. Be patient as both that site and the oneblood home site are both getting a lot of traffic right now. Alternately you can contact the Red Cross for information on donation sites and bus locations. If you are not local please consider donating to the hospitals or other organizations that are supporting the community.