Orlando: One Year Later

  • Pulse nightclub Orlando

On June 12, 2016, Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida was hosting their weekly "Latin Night."  The venue was packed with patrons – gay and straight, young and older – from the U.S., Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, and elsewhere.  About 320 people were inside the club when at 2:02 a.m. a shooter entered the building and opened fire.  The ordeal went on for three hours before the gunman was brought down by police.

49 people were lost and 68 were injured others in the deadliest incident of violence against LGBTQ people in United States history.  The youngest victim was 18-year-old Akyra Murray of Philadelphia, who had just graduated from West Catholic Prep and had a full scholarship to attend Mercyhurst University.

It remains the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, and the most extreme act of violence against LGBTQ people in our history.  Ninety-five percent of the victims were Latinx, and about half of those were of Puerto-Rican descent. It is hard to overstate the impact this kind of tragedy can have not just on community members, but also on allies, observers and those close to them.

The very idea that these people — who were out to enjoy a good time with friends, dancing, socializing, celebrating during LGBTQ Pride month — were killed in such a sudden, violent way upends our sense of reality and security.

There are no words that can adequately express the emotions many of us are feeling today, one year after the massacre that took place.

Mazzoni Center staff will observe a moment of silence at 12:30 pm, in our Town Hall meeting space. To remember with love and respect the 49 people whose lives were taken in Orlando one year ago today.

We created a space for reflection and remembrance.  It will be available throughout the day for any of our staff who need a quiet space. 

Later this afternoon, many of us will be attending and/or volunteering at the Community BBQ that GALAEI has organized from 4:00-8:00 p.m at 149 W. Susquehanna Ave. (Norris Square).  We encourage anyone who can come out and gather with community to celebrate and uplift the lives of the Pulse 49.  Details are on their Facebook event page:  http://bit.ly/2sa7arE

Our doors will remain open today for patients and clients, as we felt that many in our community will also need support and services.

Among other things, the tragic event at Pulse nightclub last June made clear that we have much more work to do as a community, as a nation, and as a society for all LGBTQ people to feel safe, healthy, accepted, and equal.  This attack was perpetrated against a largely Latinx crowd on a night designed to bring people together, to celebrate community in what should have been a safe space.

There are no easy answers, but we can all do a better job of supporting vulnerable members of our communities. It is essential to acknowledge the reality of intersectionality and its impact on each of us.  Even spaces that are designed to be LGBTQ-friendly and welcoming are not experienced as safe/friendly by everyone. In order for us to build truly healthy and strong communities, we have to recognize that and work to address it.

May the memories of these 49 lives inspire us all to carry on our work with love, compassion and determination:

Stanley Almodovar III, 23 years old

Amanda L. Alvear, 25 years old

Oscar A. Aracena Montero, 26 years old

Rodolfo Ayala Ayala, 33 years old

Antonio Davon Brown, 29 years old

Darryl Roman Burt II, 29 years old

Angel Candelario-Padro, 28 years old

Juan Chavez Martinez, 25 years old

Luis Daniel Conde, 39 years old

Cory James Connell, 21 years old

Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25 years old

Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32 years old

Simón Adrian Carrillo Fernández, 31 years old

Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25 years old

Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26 years old

Peter Ommy Gonzalez Cruz, 22 years old

Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22 years old
Paul Terrell Henry, 41 years old
Frank Hernandez, 27 years old
Miguel Angel Honorato, 30 years old
Javier Jorge Reyes, 40 years old
Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19 years old
Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30 years old
Anthony Luis Laureano Disla, 25 years old
Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32 years old
Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21 years old
Brenda Marquez McCool, 49 years old
Gilberto R. Silva Menendez, 25 years old
Kimberly Jean Morris, 37 years old
Akyra Monet Murray, 18 years old
Luis Omar Ocasio Capo, 20 years old
Geraldo A. Ortiz Jimenez, 25 years old
Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36 years old
Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32 years old
Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35 years old
Enrique L. Rios, Jr., 25 years old