Two years later many groups, individuals will honor and remember those affected by the Pulse tragedy

By : Jeremy Williams
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ABOVE:  The Pulse memorial will be one of several locations with events June 12.

ORLANDO | It’s been nearly two years since our community woke to the news that a gunman entered one of our LGBTQ nightclubs in downtown Orlando on Latin Night with a semi-automatic rifle and handgun. 49 patrons were killed and another 53 injured while they danced, drank and celebrated with friends and family.

In the wake of the Pulse tragedy, the people of Orlando came together and showed that no matter a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity, race, sex, religion or national origin we were not going to lash out and let hate win.

That tradition of taking a tragedy and making it into something positive and good will continue this year as many groups, organizations and community members will honor, remember and celebrate the lives of the Pulse angels during the week of June 12.

“This will be a week of reflection, as we remember our 49 angels, support our survivors and consider how we as a community continue to emerge from this tragedy,” said Barbara Poma, owner of Pulse and founder of the onePULSE Foundation, in a press release. “These events will focus on unity, hope and our continued efforts to fulfill our promise that we will not let hate win.”

Poma and the onePULSE Foundation have partnered with many organizations including the City of Orlando, the One Orlando Alliance and the Matthew Shepard Foundation on several of the events. The Matthew Shepard Foundation will mark its 20th year fighting hate crimes this October and will present several events of its own in Orlando in June.

“Being in Orlando with the Matthew Shepard Foundation brings together both communities I’ve been fighting for over the last two years,” said Sara Grossman, the Matthew Shepard Foundation’s communication manager. “After losing a close friend at the Pulse shooting shortly before joining the Foundation’s team, I had hoped we would make it down to Orlando. This is an event that has been needed and will be healing for the community affected by Pulse.”

Also keeping in the spirit of not letting hate win, the One Orlando Alliance returns with “Acts of Love and Kindness,” an initiative started last June 12 at the one-year mark of the Pulse tragedy. It asks members of the community, and people from around the world, to engage in volunteerism and show love by supporting those still in need.

“The Pulse tragedy was the darkest day in Orlando’s history, yet hate did not win or divide. In fact, it sparked a movement of love, kindness and generosity here at home and around the world,” said Jennifer Foster of the One Orlando Alliance. “Though we can never get back the innocent lives that were forever taken from us, our community remains stronger and more united than ever before. There’s much more that we all can do to honor everyone affected and continue to create a better community.”

Last year, Acts of Love and Kindness had over 2,500 people volunteer their time totaling more than 5,000 hours of service. The movement generated over a quarter of a million Facebook impressions and 5 million views on Snapchat. The organization is asking that anyone who posts about their act of love and kindness use the hashtag #ActLoveGive on social media.

Churches, temples, synagogues and mosques around the world are also participating through the “49 Bells” initiative. More than 30 faith organizations will toll their bells 49 times at noon on June 12.

For more information on Pulse-inspired events check below or visit onePULSEFoundation.org, OneOrlandoAlliance.orgMatthewShepard.org and the Watermark events page.

During the first few weeks of June, many organizations will be holding events and offering services in honor and remembrance of those 49 lives lost at Pulse on June 12, 2016.

We have compiled a list of many of the events below. This is by no means a complete list and we will be posting this compilation of events on our website at WatermarkOnline.com. Please feel free to share any events we missed in the comments section, on our Watermark Facebook page or on our website events listing.

LGBTQ+ Advance Directive and Will Clinic
Friday, June 1, By Appointment Only

The Legal Aid Society of the Orange County Bar Association, Orlando

In remembrance and honor of the victims of the Pulse tragedy and their families, The Legal Aid Society of the Orange County Bar Association and its community partners are offering a free event for the LGBTQ+ community. Volunteer attorneys will prepare simple wills, durable power of attorney, healthcare surrogate and living wills free of charge. To schedule an appointment call 407-841-8310, ext. 3167.

Stay Proud, Be Loud
Tuesday, June 5, 3:00-8:00 p.m.

Parliament House, Orlando

The Matthew Shepard Foundation and Miller Lite invite you out for their third “Stay Proud, Be Loud” community discussion on hate crimes. They will discuss Pulse, the hate crime rate in Central Florida and the work they are doing in their 20th anniversary year to combat hate in America. The event will be two parts with a panel discussion starting at 3:00 p.m. and a reception following at 5:00 p.m.

An Evening with Judy and Dennis Shepard
Wednesday, June 6, 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Home of Phil Kean and Brad Grosberg, Orlando

This year marks two decades since the tragic murder of Matthew Shepard and the national attention his death brought to hate crimes against LGBTQ people. The onePULSE Foundation teams up with the Matthew Shepard Foundation for this intimate conversation with Matthew Shepard’s parents, Judy and Dennis Shepard, and Pulse owner Barbara Poma. Tickets are $175 each and are available by searching the event name at Eventbrite.com.

Second Annual CommUNITY Rainbow Run
Saturday, June 9, 7:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

Wadeview Park, Orlando

The onePULSE Foundation will host the CommUNITY Rainbow Run in partnership with the DeVos Sport Business Management Program at UCF. An estimated 1,500 runners and walkers will join together at Wadeview Park for a 4.9K, Kids Fun Run and CommUNITY Festival. The race is in honor of all affected by the Pulse tragedy and the course goes by the Pulse Memorial and the Orlando Health Trauma Center. Registration and event details are available at CommunityRainbowRun.com.

The 49 Fund Scholarship Recipients Announcement
Saturday, June 9, 3:00 p.m.

City Hall, Orlando

In honor of the 49 victims of the Pulse nightclub attack, The 49 Fund awards a $4,900.00 scholarship to 10 Central Florida students who demonstrate personal and professional development, leadership and a commitment of service to their community. The 49 Fund completed the application and interview process for the 2018 scholarships and are ready to announce the recipients. For more information on The 49 Fund visit The49Fund.org.

“O-Town Voices”
Sunday, June 10, 7:30 p.m.

Orlando Shakespeare Theatre, Orlando

First performed at the Orlando Fringe in 2017, “O-Town Voices” is a play comprised of stories, interviews and speeches from Orlando, and across the globe, collected during the weeks and months following the Pulse attack. “O-Town Voices” was created and directed by David Lee and features 18 local theater veterans, Pulse owner Barbara Poma, Pulse survivor Neema Bahrami and the Orlando Gay Chorus. Tickets and event details are available at onePULSEFoundation.org/Events.

Another Year Passes: Orlando after the Pulse Nightclub Massacre
Sunday, June 10, 12:00-5:00 p.m.; Monday-Saturday, June 11-16,

10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.

Orange County History Center, Orlando

The Orange County History Center in downtown Orlando will be bringing back its Pulse collection exhibit starting the first weekend of Pride Month, June 2, and will have it on display through Come Out With Pride weekend, Oct. 14. The exhibit will be free of charge during the week of June 12. For more information on the exhibit call the Orange County History Center at 407-836-8500 or visit TheHistoryCenter.org.

One Orlando Alliance’s Acts of Love and Kindness
Tuesday, June 12, All Day

Central Florida and across the world

Acts of Love and Kindness is a movement grown out of the spirit of giving and good deeds witnessed in the aftermath of the tragedy at Pulse Nightclub on June 12, 2016. The One Orlando Alliance — a coalition of more than 30 Orlando LGBTQ+ organizations — mobilizes this movement to inspire the Orlando community and beyond to engage in volunteerism, share stories and show support through acts of love and kindness. Those participating are encouraged to share their stories on social media using the hashtag: #ActLoveGive.

Sea-to-Sea Flag and Art Exhibit
Tuesday, June 12, All Day

Orange County Administration Office, Orlando

Section 93 represents a 25-foot section of the world’s largest 1.25-mile original eight-color LGBTQ rainbow flag that was constructed in 2003 in Key West, Florida. The Sea-to-Sea flag stretched from the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico and required more than 2,000 people to carry it. It was created by Gilbert Baker, the original artist who created the iconic rainbow flag in 1978. Also known as “The Sacred Cloth,” it is a symbol of the worldwide LGBTQ movement for acceptance, understanding, education, solidarity and inclusion. The County will feature a small exhibit on the first floor atrium of the administration building – the banner of the 49 will by hung and Pulse-related artwork will be showcased.

Ringing of the Bells
Tuesday, June 12, 12:00 p.m.

First United Methodist Church, Orlando

Join the public gathering on June 12 at noon as the First United Methodist Church in downtown Orlando will ring its bells 49 times, once for every life lost that tragic day. In a sign of solidarity, multiple churches across the U.S. and the world will join in the ringing of the bells.

The Annual Remembrance Ceremony—A Public Community Gathering
Tuesday, June 12, 7:00 p.m.

Pulse Memorial, Orlando

The onePULSE Foundation will host a public ceremony where Pulse still stands, now as the interim Pulse Memorial, to remember the 49 angels. Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs will join community members, survivors and first responders as they honor those we have lost. Parking and accessibility information available at onePULSEFoundation.org.

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