Watermark isn’t just Central Florida’s LGBT news source; we are members of the local LGBT community. We live here, we work here, we love here. And now, we grieve here.
At approximately 2 a.m. June 12, a man, who police say is named Omar Mateen, entered Pulse nightclub armed with a handgun and an AR-15-type rifle. With those weapons, in cold blood, he murdered forty-nine members of our community, and injured at least fifty more.
The loss is unspeakable.
But the community is strong.
We will survive, and so we must speak.
Right now, we are focused on how to help, and how to get help. As Watermark, we will provide timely, accurate information on resources and support, both how to give them and how to get them. As members of the community, we will hold each other and cry for our friends. We will grieve this loss and we will hurt for the victims and those who loved them.
Then, we will tell the stories of strength and resilience that are already arising from this unfathomable tragedy. The survivors. The responders. The community who is working together to hold itself up, to prove that senseless violence will not destroy us. At this moment, we do not know the precise reason why the suspect chose Pulse as the target for his violence and hate, but the fact remains: he targeted gay people. Therefore, it is more important than ever that the Orlando LGBT community join together and bolster each other, as a message to those who hate us: You cannot silence us. You cannot destroy us. We aren’t going anywhere.
And finally, we will hold those responsible, accountable.
We’ve had worried friends and family, checking in, “Are you okay? Are you okay?”
No, we are not okay.
We may have personally survived the shooting, but fifty members of our close-knit, beloved community are dead. That is not okay. Nothing about this is okay.
But we will be, and here is how we know: Orlando’s LGBT community is organized, and generous, and mighty. We are a family. We will take our broken strands and weave them together, creating an even stronger tapestry of courage and life. Orlando will show the world that our LGBT community cannot be silenced, or ruined, or beaten down.
Our enduring story will not be a tragedy. The world will see our community, the care we have for each other, and how we draw strength from that love. Our story will be one of survival, and hope, and PRIDE.
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