Love is Love is Love – A Community Collaboration to Support Orlando
I’ve been in Philly for about two years, and as much as I have come to enjoy my time here my heart will forever be with my home state of Florida - especially with the city of Orlando where I was a faithful resident for five formative years. Orlando was where I completed my undergrad career, and also became the place where I truly found myself and fully explored a burgeoning queer identity which has become a huge part of all of the beautiful things that make me who I am today.
Although I never had the pleasure of attending Pulse back then there were scores of other LGBTQ spaces in Orlando that I found safety and acceptance in. Countless drag performances, dance nights and wild excursions to local haunts like P House, Paradise and Revolution come to mind when I think of my time in Orlando, which is why when tragedy struck Pulse (despite having never been there) it felt like such a crushing blow. The idea that someone would so cruelly tarnish the sanctity of a space that so many loved and found solace in within a community that provided me with some of the happiest memories of my life so far weighs so heavy on my heart...
That was why I jumped at the chance to be a part of the diverse planning committee that worked together to put on the Dance for Orlando community event at William Way. It was the perfect opportunity to make valuable connections with my peers in organizations around Philadelphia, as well as do something incredibly meaningful and positive for my second home.
In just a little over one week, representatives from Philadelphia FIGHT, William Way LGBT Community Center, Action Wellness PHL, GALAEI - A Queer Latino Social Justice Organization, Philly Black Pride, Mazzoni Center, Colours Organization, The Attic Youth Center, Independence Business Alliance, Men of ALL Colors Together, OUTMuslim, AIDS Fund, SUPERobject, DVLF, The Bearded Ladies, Equality Forum, and The Wilma Theater came together to put on a multi-layered event that saw an amazing turn-out of all ages and walks of life. The dedication, hard work and enthusiasm I witnessed from everyone involved was nothing short of inspiring, which can also be said for the youth and community members who attended, performed, volunteered, and remained unabashedly true to who they are during the night of the event. Seeing all of the bright smiles and sharp dance moves after weeks of feeling like a dark cloud was looming over the entire country helped me to regain hopefulness for our future. I felt nothing but love and radiant energy abound, and this quote from Eddie Davis at Philadelphia FIGHT continues to come to mind even days after the end of the event – “’From rain comes rainbows…That’s what my mother would always say…”