Orange County Regional History Center launches One Orlando Collection’s Pulse exhibit, digital gallery

By : Jeremy Williams
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The Orange County Regional History Center has displayed hundreds of Pulse memorial items in an exhibit for the One Orlando Collection. The exhibit can be viewed at the History Center from June 12-17. Admission to the History Center has been waived during this period.

The collection can also be viewed in their digital gallery, currently at more than 600 pieces and continuing to grow every day. The online gallery can be viewed at OneOrlandoCollection.com.

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Orlando Gay Chorus launches Voices United! Orlando youth camp

By : Billy Manes
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ORLANDO – For one week, everyone was a star, or at least a star in the making.

In an unexpected move, the Orlando Gay Chorus—with help from a grant from Disney—launched a chorus camp called Voices United! Orlando, a choir camp intended to raise voices to their perfect pitch, all while having fun. From June 5-9, 22 kids of middle-school age came together for a week of bass and treble, alto and soprano, all leading to a final performance that Friday.

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Wet Hot Gay Summer! Orlando’s big gay weekend succeeds despite the weather and a year of mourning

By : Billy Manes
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ORLANDO – It was the best of times, it was the wettest of times.

Whether it was a pool party or a thunderstorm, the underlying theme beneath the gray skies of Orlando’s resort area in its big gay weekend occupying June’s first week was one of water falling, often with thunder and lightning included.

For 27 years, GayDayS Inc., One Magical Weekend and Girls in Wonderland have been tourism drivers for the area, growing from simple notions of red shirts at theme parks all the way to huge circuit parties and even bigger profits. In economic development parlance, the annual June event brings hundreds of millions of dollars to the region.

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Anti-gay protester arrested near Pulse during one-year remembrance

By : Wire Report
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ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) – An anti-gay protester faces misdemeanor charges after his arrest next-door to Pulse nightclub as hundreds of people remembered the massacre of 49 club patrons.

Daniel Maguire was arrested June 12 near Pulse nightclub. He’s charged with breach of peace and resisting an officer without violence.

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The Dru Project officially launches at The Abbey

By : Jeremy Williams
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The Dru Project got its official launch at The Abbey June 11 among friends, family and supporters of Drew Leinonen, one of the 49 people killed at the Pulse tragedy last year.

The Abbey was packed with media and activist as some of the founders of The Dru Project, including Drew’s mother Christine Leinonen and his best friend Brandon Wolf, spoke to the crowd.

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Kissimmee celebrates diversity with PrideFest

By : Danny Garcia
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The City of Kissimmee hosted their first ever Pridefest Kissimmee at the Kissimmee Civic Center June 10. The day was scheduled to include an opening ceremony, vendors and live entertainment both indoors and out.

Unfortunately, because of weather concerns, outdoor activities were cancelled and most of the festival was moved indoors. Despite the rain, many locals showed up to show their Pride. The event featured musical performers, art projects and a proclamation from the city of Kissimmee.

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Central Florida Sounds of Freedom Band and Color Guard presented “We. Are. Americans.”

By : Jeremy Williams
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Central Florida Sounds of Freedom and Color Guard held their spring concert, “We. Are. Americans.” at the Orlando Repertory Theatre in Orlando June 11.

The band, faturing special guest performers from the Impact Drum & Bungle Corps., played a variety of music from patriotic standards to Broadway classics while the color guard danced with flags and ribbons in all the colors of the rainbow.

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The 49 Fund Scholarship Announcements

By : Jake Stevens
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People braved the oncoming afternoon thunderstorms to get to Orlando City Hall Rotunda June 10 to applaud the recipients of The 49 Fund scholarships.

Launched by Orlando activist, and President and CEO of The Closing Agent, Barry Miller, eight Orlando-area high schoolers were awarded $4,900 toward their higher education.

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Looking back on a gay nightclub that almost wasn’t; looking forward after a massacre

By : Alma J. Hill
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The news coverage of Pulse is a 24-hour cycle of tragedy. Again and again, readers are forced to relive chaos and carnage. Images of the battered wall fill our news feeds, and the faces of the 49 float in and out of our consciousness on a regular basis. Bodies in corners, mothers crying in cars, candles in the rain; remembering Pulse has come to almost exclusively mean reliving the events of June 12th.

Rarely is the legacy of the club discussed. As an LGBTQ friendly space that had been operational for well over a decade, Pulse represented many firsts for Orlando. It was the first Orlando nightclub to feature a space even remotely similar to its famed futuristic white room (that changed colors). In 2013, it became one of the first gay clubs in Central Florida to give a Saturday night home to a Latin night. The club’s opulent interior garnered national attention, earning Pulse coverage in both Club and Mondo magazines.

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How the Orange County Regional History Center is helping preserve the memories from the Pulse shooting

By : Alma J. Hill
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It’s hard to wrap your mind around the Pulse massacre if you’ve lived in Orlando for any amount of time, but especially over the past year. On April 29, representatives from the Orange County Regional History Center – including executive director Michael Perkins and curator of exhibitions and collections Pamela Schwartz, among others – spoke to the difficulties of preserving the integrity and the heart of the tributes left outside of Pulse Orlando: the flowers, the candles, the messages and photographs.

If candles melted onto fabric, electric irons were employed to remove the wax. Dilapidated flowers, washed words, stuffed animals, so many pictures and flags and feelings had to be gathered to commemorate those who were killed in plain view, killed in a nightclub, killed for being LGBTQ or at least being friendly with those who were. It would be a delicate task of peeling photos from frames, flowers from vases and quilts from fences.

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Groups form in the wake of Pulse to better explain, correct our problem with mass violence

By : Billy Manes
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There have been numerous efforts to make sense – and sociological advancement – following the attack at Pulse Orlando on June 12.

Look around you. There are murals everywhere, scenes of righteous indignations, ribbon-makers delivering rainbows to celebrities, candlelight tributes, attempts to curb the seeming necessity to take those out with whom you do not agree. Orlando is America’s tipping point on both the LGBTQ and gun-violence fronts, and many of those who are most affected are seeking change to make things better. You can say “intersectionality” in terms of protest all you want, but here, now, it is manifest. These are but a few of the bright spots to come from that dark night. Orlando is coming together; you can help.

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Orlando remains united on the one-year mark of its most difficult time

By : Billy Manes and Sophia Mackrives
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In accordance with grief and tradition, Central Florida will be honoring the 49 lost at Pulse on June 12, 2016, with numerous events spanning more than a week.

This is by no means a complete guide to the memorials that will be going on – new ones appear daily – but this is a fairly broad guide for what it is you might want to do to reflect on that horrific day nearly one year ago. Likewise, we’re looking forward while looking back. If you visit actlovegive.org – Orlando United’s Day of Acts of Love and Kindness, a combined initiative between the county, the city, Pulse and other organizations – you will find plenty of ways to help in the ongoing cycle of trauma: volunteering, storytelling and donating. This is the part where you come in.

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