In the lobby of the Pride Center’s main building a United States flag was framed to commemorate the Pulse Nightclub attack.
In a brief ceremony Monday evening, the flag that flew over the U.S. Capitol on June 12, 2016 was unveiled to the public. Pride Center Director of Development Roger Roa said the flag was “gifted” to the South Florida facility by former Congressman Patrick Murphy.
Various remarks were offered and calls for action made. Mark Budwig, President of the Pride Center Board of Directors, recognized the organization was celebrating its 24th year of existence.
“Today we celebrate our strength as a community,” Budwig said.
Wilton Manors Commissioner Julie Carson welcomed attendees, noting her small island municipality is “safe, inclusive, ours.” The 55-year-old lesbian told a story of how a recent encounter with glitter made her feel better. Approached by a stranger at Sunday’s Equality Rally in downtown Fort Lauderdale and asked if she would like some glitter, Carson closed her eyes and received it.
“Don’t let special moments pass you by,” Carson said. “Say ‘Yes’ to glitter.”
It was a lighthearted moment for a somber ceremony that included music by keyboardist Edgar Johnson, a reading of Maya Angelou’s poetry from Tatiana Williams and solo Spanish serenade by Edgardo Pinta.
Fort Lauderdale Commissioner Dean Trantalis recalled the angry emotions he felt one year ago at the same site when news of the Pulse massacre spread.
“It violated our comfort,” Trantalis said, suggesting some in the South Florida LGBT community had been lulled into a false sense of security.
“We take so much for granted that we are in a safe environment,” Trantalis said.
In 1993 Trantalis was part of the original donor group that launched what today is a 5.5-acre campus.
“This is our home,” Trantalis said. “But beyond that we have a duty to make sure that who we are in our community that we represent the best of all possible people.”
Rabbi Noah Kitty of Congregation Etz Chaim invited the crowd to take a moment of silence and think about the hour before the Orlando attack that claimed 49 lives. Pastor Leslie Rutland-Tipton of the Church of the Holy Spirit Song said it is time to take action. Rutland-Tipton, a lesbian, said she has been called to reach out to heterosexual pastors with a simple message: “It’s not OK that we are held as second class citizens any longer.”