By Olivia Olivia, PQ Monthly
On Sunday morning, the world woke up to the news that the largest single-person mass shooting in American history had taken 50 lives at a gay club in Orlando, Florida. On Saturday, June 11, Pulse nightclub was packed and hosting their Latin Night, advertising with images of Latina and Black Trans Women, promising popular Latin music like bachata, salsa, reggaeton, and merengue. No one entering Pulse Saturday night knew that they were about to be the target of one man’s violently homophobic, transphobic, racist rage.
Witnesses describe hearing countless cell phones ringing on the floor at night’s end. Loved ones were calling to see if people were okay. No one was answering those phones, because the victims were either dead, injured, or had fled in terror. By that morning, news had spread across the country and many of us on the west coast, including Portland, began processing a life changing moment.
President Obama addressed the country on television, stating that Pulse was “more than a nightclub.”
“It is a place of solidarity and empowerment where people have come together to raise awareness, to speak their minds, and to advocate for their civil rights,” he added. “So this is a sobering reminder that attacks on any American—regardless of race, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation—is an attack on all of us and on the fundamental values of equality and dignity that define us as a country. And no act of hate or terror will ever change who we are or the values that make us Americans.”
Across the country, the message rang true as millions of people attended local rallies and solidarity vigils. Portland’s vigil featured Mayor Charlie Hales, candidate for Multnomah County Commissioner District I Eric Zimmerman, the Portland Lesbian Choir, and Multnomah County Policy Analyst and Constituent Relations Coordinator Walter Ladell Robinson II, among others.
“I worry sometimes that I have gotten too comfortable,” Robinson said, addressing the crowd in front of Embers on Sunday night at the Portland vigil. “I worry that I am not doing enough for my brothers and sisters, and we need to be doing more.”
Activists left Sunday’s vigil with a renewed sense of purpose, vowing to dedicate this year’s Pride festivities to the victims and survivors of the Orlando shooting. The Q Center on Mississippi is opening its doors tonight from 7 to 9 PM to offer counseling and therapy services to community members in need. On Wednesday, PQ Monthly and other organizers invite the community to the Q Center from 7 to 9 PM for a Pre-Pride Vigil and healing space.
PQ Monthly stands with Orlando and the shooting victims, their families, and everyone affected by these events. We hold space for your thoughts, photos, memories, and feedback during this devastating time.
You are not alone. We are with you. We are in this together.