Pulse Nightclub Shooting Victims Remembered With Vigils During Gay Pride Celebrations

The Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida, in the wee hours of Sunday morning has been declared the worst mass shooting in American history. It took place in a venue that especially caters to LGBT clientele and also during the month of June, which is traditionally Gay Pride month in the United States to commemorate the Stonewall riots in June of 1969. President Bill Clinton first declared the month of June to be Gay & Lesbian Pride Month in 2000.

The victims, 50 dead and 53 injured as of this writing, are being remembered with vigils that are being held alongside the previously scheduled LGBT pride celebrations that dot the United States every weekend in June, though this year they have taken a markedly more somber tone. This somber tone marks the starkest contrast imaginable to the jubilation of the Pride celebrations last June, when the Supreme Court handed down a landmark court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges that granted all same-sex couples the right to marry in the United States.

The Pulse Nightclub shooting victims were remembered at a Minneapolis vigil in Loring Park on Sunday, where local citizens, members of the LGBT community, and Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton congregated with leaders of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN). In nearby Brookview Park, the previously scheduled Golden Valley Pride festival defiantly rallied, but began with a moment of silence in which the 2,000 attendees participated to remember the victims before moving on to a celebration of LGBT lives, undeterred by terror. The festival ran from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. and included an interfaith religious service.

The Pulse Nightclub shooting victims will also be remembered with a to-be-announced memorial exercise at the upcoming Twin Cities Pride celebration on the weekend of June 25 and 26, which is notable as one of the nation’s largest. While the celebrations will continue despite recent terror, event organizers say that they are working with both the Minneapolis Police Department and the Minneapolis Park Police to step up security to a level not previously experienced by festival attendees. Dot Belstler, executive director of Twin Cities Pride, promised both safety and joyful communion.

“We want everybody to come and be able to celebrate and be safe. We’ll probably have more visible security.”

The Pulse Nightclub shooting victims were remembered by a group of hundreds late Sunday night at the aforementioned and historic Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village, according to the New York Times, which reports that these hundreds of people arrived beginning at around 6:00 p.m. to remember the victims, as well as to gather and commiserate as a community united in the pride of having come through hardships like this before, including in that very spot.

“We come today because we are a community that will never be silenced again.”

Dozens of LGBT community members met inside the Stonewall Inn long before 6:00 for a peaceful love-in that launched the somber optimism of the vigil itself, a sad and rightfully angry occasion that was still primarily punctuated with chants of, “No hate.”

The Pulse Nightclub shooting victims were also remembered in Jackson Heights, Queens, at a vigil wherein Muslim leaders made a point to meet with gay rights advocates and local politicians to remind New York City and perhaps the world that their significant Muslim population lives harmoniously side-by-side with its LGBT neighbors.

The Pulse Nightclub shooting victims are also remembered in Ottawa, the capital city of Canada. The mayor of Ottawa has decreed that a Pride flag that has been flying at Ottawa City Hall since early Sunday morning will continue to fly until sundown on Thursday, June 16. Simultaneously, an American flag flies at Marion Dewar Plaza.

The Pulse Nightclub shooting victims were remembered by Ottawa Capital Pride with a silent candlelight vigil at the Human Rights Monument beginning at 8:00 p.m. on Sunday.

[Image courtesy of Jessica Kourkounis/Getty Images]

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