Nearly a month has passed since 49 people were shot dead at Pulse nightclub in Orlando. As the deadliest mass shooting in modern history, families of victims and survivors are continuing to cope with this tragedy.
Immediately following the shooting, Equality Florida launched a GoFundMe donation page to raise funds for the victims and the victims’ families. To date, the campaign has raised nearly $7 million from almost 120,000 donors.
On June 30, the LGBT civil rights organization launched #ForThe49 — an online pledge spreading love, protection, and justice. According to Hannah Willard, Policy and Outreach Coordinator for Equality Florida, the campaign is the next phase in the organization’s work in Orlando.
“We’re moving into another year where we expect more anti-LGBTQ legislation to be passed, not just in Florida but across the country,” Willard said. “This is just the beginning of a larger campaign to move equality forward.”
As donations to the GoFundMe campaign continue to come in from around the world, Willard notes that the page started with a small goal in mind.
“The first day we set the goal at $100,000,” she said. “I don’t even know how many times they’ve raised [the goal] now. Generosity has come from around the world with 120,000 donors from 120 countries.”
The global response has hit new heights, with celebrities and musicians donating money and sharing the link. Hillary Clinton’s campaign tweeted the link to the donation page as well. With benefit concerts, in-kind donations, and other creative donations, Willard said that many celebrities are taking inventory of what they have and how they can contribute. With the new #ForThe49 campaign, new allies can band together for a common purpose.
“There are folks that never considered themselves an ally and others that didn’t think they needed to be vocal. These are the people who are coming together to end this senseless and heartbreaking violence,” Willard said. “We must uproot hatred and homophobia and end discrimination in the LGBTQ community.”
To take a stand, first sign the pledge at EqFL.org/ForThe49. Then post a photo or video on social media of yourself explaining why you stand #ForThe49. Then continue using the hashtag on social media to spread the message. Don’t forget to tell friends, loved ones, and neighbors that you support them.
“There is a choice in front of every single American: are you going to take a stand or are you going to remain silent in the face of the largest mass shooting in United States history?” Willard said. “We’re hoping this campaign will give folks that first step in taking a stand and making a difference.”
Want to take the pledge? Go to EqFL.org/ForThe49 to sign the pledge and spread the word.