Recalling Pulse, Orlando LGBTQ activists mourn Colorado victims

A crowd of nearly 70 gathered Sunday evening, weeping, singing and embracing at the Pulse memorial to mourn the deaths of the five killed at an LGBTQ nightclub shooting in Colorado Springs this weekend.

The Orlando Gay Chorus sang “Love is Love is Love” to a crowd bearing the cold rain with teary eyes.

Jessica Gilmer, 23, a member of the chorus, said even though she isn’t very good with words she wanted to support the LGBTQ community in the only way she knew how: to sing.

“I was trying not to cry while singing,” Gilmer said. “This is actually my first time at the memorial itself because it’s such an overwhelming thing, and partly why I had to show up today [was] to be a voice for the people who had their voices taken away.”

Recalling the horror of the Pulse nightclub shooting six years ago, Orlando LGBTQ activists on Sunday condemned the attack in Colorado.

A 22-year-old gunman walked into Club Q in Colorado Springs just before midnight on Saturday and immediately began shooting with a rifle into the crowd, killing at least five and injuring 25 before club-goers subdued him, according to Colorado Springs police.

One Orlando Alliance, which was created in the aftermath of the Pulse attack, noted that the shooting occurred during the weekend of the Transgender Day of Remembrance, where 32 members of the trans community who have been violently killed would be honored. Now the organization will mourn five more victims of violence.

On June 12, 2016, a gunman claiming allegiance to Islamic terrorists burst into the Pulse nightclub south of downtown Orlando and shot to death 49 people and wounded dozens more. He was eventually killed by police.

At the memorial Sunday, Felipe Sousa-Lazaballet, executive director for Hope CommUnity Center in Apopka, said, “the silence of the governor is deafening” and “it’s time for action.”

“This is a call to action for every person who is here,” Sousa-Lazaballet said.

Senior Pastor Terri Steed Pierce at the Joy Metropolitan Community Church, a church founded by and for LGBTQ community, also spoke to the crowd saying she “was sick of the violence.”.

“I’m sick of being here and seeing a comment about the same stuff and absolutely nothing changing,” Pierce said. “We must demand that our legislators, our government, do the right thing.”

Equality Florida, the largest civil rights organization for the Florida LGBTQ community, called the shooting another “all too familiar horror” and said it will work with local partners to ensure the community gets resources necessary to begin healing.

“It is no coincidence that yet another community refuge, and the safety it provides, has been shattered amidst a political climate supercharged with anti-LGBTQ hate by powerful leaders and right wing extremists,” Equality Florida said in a statement. “Thanksgiving tables will have empty chairs this week. Holidays will have missing faces. These are the costs of hate violence — costs we know all too well.”

State Rep. Anna Eskamani said Club Q, just like Pulse, was a safe haven for the LGBTQ community.

“As Orlandoans, we stand in solidarity with those impacted by this senseless tragedy and recommit ourselves to honor those no longer with us through action,” Eskamani said in a statement.