SFGN’s “Speak OUT” is a weekly feature giving a regular voice to South Florida LGBT community leaders, activists and business people.
June 12 will mark one year since the Pulse shooting in Orlando. What would you like to say about the tragedy or its aftermath.
Below are some of their answers:
A year later after the Pulse massacre, my heart still grieves for the victims and their families. I am forever grateful for the response of the Greater Orlando community and their friends from law enforcement and hospital staff to sports professionals and local residents who showed support for and solidarity with the LGBT community and everyone impacted by the massacre.
Looking beyond Orlando and the local level, our nation no longer has a president advocating for sensible responsible gun safety or properly acknowledging the LGBT community within national policies or even with a basic Pride Month proclamation. The Republican-controlled Congress and the Trump White House has ignored us and how the Pulse tragedy targeted the LGBT community.
Our national leaders are leaderless on this, so I remain proud to stand with those officials and activists who continue to advocate, resist, persist, and enlist for the needed change we must have. Just like with the killing of Matthew Sheppard in Laramie, Wyoming, we must work on all levels from politics to community outreach and education to make sure the Pulse victims in Orlando, Florida, not have died in vain.
— Justin Flippen, Vice Mayor of Wilton Manors
The Pulse massacre was a painful reminder that LGBTQ people are still demonized and dehumanized by many and the rhetoric of hate leads to actions of violence. It remains imperative that we affirm the inherent dignity of all people.
— Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins, Senior Minister of Sunshine Cathedral, Fort Lauderdale
It’s hard to believe it's been a year. Sad that just recently the body camera footage was released. This has been one of too many shootings in America. Much like Sept 11 we've seen increased security in venues not usually targets. I feel this has brought us, an LGBTQI community together, too. A common scene of community has been felt.
— R. J. Hadley, community activist
In 2015, Florida with 2,559 deaths was third after California with 3,095 and Texas with 3,203 in firearm related deaths. That’s not just numbers. Those are people. We need to be outraged. We need to fight!
We need an end to grandstanding around the issues of gun violence. Instead we need real legislation of gun control and a logical reasoning behind the “need” for one. Only then, will the lives of our Pulse Brothers and Sisters not be in vain.
— Meredith L Ockman, community activist and a director of NOW
There is no making sense, or getting our arms and hearts around the mass murder of our family in Pulse. We know that it can, and probably will happen again in some other manifestation of fear and hatred, here or somewhere else. We must never forget, and we must dance with abandon.
— Brian McNaught, noted columnist, author and LGBT activist
This terrible tragedy and aftermath have brought about a stronger sense of community, pride and an imperative sense that we should love, respect and protect each other more than ever.
— Tony Lima, Executive Director of SAVE
— Ruth Berman, LGBT activist
I am still saddened by the memory of the event. Haunted daily but the realization that intolerance has not even begun to fade, it hides behind a veil-- but lingers just beneath the surface.
— Rolando, Curator, The Box Gallery
May the family and friends of the victims in the Pulse senseless massacre find strength and love in the warm embrace from all of us.
— Mark Silver, Fine Jewelry Designer