By: Nicole Lashomb/TRT Editor—
June 12, 2016. 49 lives were lost that night and dozens more were injured in a senseless massacre of the LBTQA community at Pulse Orlando nightclub, marking the deadliest shooting in U.S. history. One year later, we continue to grieve our lost brothers and sisters, and still mobilize to rise-up and conquer hate. We still stand united to take on homophobia in the fiercest way possible. We still arm ourselves with advocacy, solidarity and truth and most importantly, love. We still honor the lives that were and their legacy that has been left behind (as we did a year ago). We will not forget. We owe it to ourselves and we owe it to them. We owe it to our friend too, KJ Morris, one of the casualties of that dreadful morning.
Countless lessons have been learned since the mass murder last June. But, perhaps one of the greatest lessons is that love always conquers hate. In the midst of the most horrific tragedy committed against the LGBTQA community, we saw the world rise up and band together in solidarity against hatred at an unprecedented magnitude. However, we didn’t only attend and observe vigils, services, and memorials as they erupted throughout the globe. We witnessed a relentless human spirit that despite profound agony and grief, the collective energy strengthened us all through immense empathy, love and interconnectedness. Since Pulse Orlando, we’ve learned that we must lean on each other and learn from our differences, not just our commonalities.
Though often left out of mainstream LGBTQA reporting, it is critically important to remember that the majority of those slain that night were people of color, mostly Latinx. The intersectional identities drastically impact how incidents involving sexual orientation and gender identity are perceived within various cultures and expected norms, including during tragic events such as the Pulse shooting. In this case, the murders took place during a Latinx-themed night at the gay nightclub. The National LGBTQ Task Force released a statement by the Arucs Foundation on behalf of more than 120 LGBTQ organizations and their allies, which called for “all people to defeat with compassion the scourge of hate crimes based in animus to-ward LGBTQ people, people of color, and those who live in the intersection of our communities.”
Shortly after the tragedy, murals honoring the 49 and celebrating their lives began popping up all around the city, painting the town in vibrant colors. International artist Michael Pilato & his artistic partner Yuriy Karabash, collaborated with Orlando resident, Chimene Hurst to bring the 49 to life again in a 3D mural honoring the victims of that fateful night. More can be read about the Pulse Orlando Mural on page5. According to a report published by LGBTQ Nation, “City and county officials in Orlando, Fla., want the one-year anniversary of the Pulse nightclub massacre to be marked with acts of love and kindness. June 12 officially will be dedicated as “Orlando United Day—A Day of Love and Kindness.” A single despicable act fueled by hate and destruction of the human spirit morphed into millions of acts of palpable love, healing and acceptance. And, love always conquers hate. “An exhibit of artwork collected from memorial sites set up around Orlando after the massacre will be shown at the Orange County History Center, followed by a memorial service at the site of the former gay nightclub,” LGBTQ Nation reported.
Locally, Pulse survivors will lead the Boston Pride and North Shore Pride (NSP) parades. Pulse Survivor Christopher Hansen (see page 5 & 13 of this issue) will be the NSP Grand Marshal and the honorary guest at The Rainbow Times’ Pride Kick-off Sunset Cruise on June 23 and its Ultimate Pride Splash Cruise on June 25 to close out North Shore Pride weekend in Salem, Mass. We celebrate #Forthe49—always loved and never forgotten. And we #HonorThemWithAction.
*Nicole Lashomb is the Editor-in-Chief of The Rainbow Times & Co-Chair of Salem’s No Place for Hate Community Engagement Sub-committee. She holds a Bachelor’s degree from the Crane School of Music/SUNY Potsdam and an MBA from Marylhurst University. Nicole can be reached via her e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.