It was just one year ago today that a horrific massacre was carried out in an Orlando nightclub where the lives of 49 innocent LGBT individuals were stolen by an extremist armed to the gills with firearms.
The 49 were young and old, gay and straight, of all races and colors. Many of those killed were Latino, and most were men. All had come to Pulse Nightclub that night to have fun and cut loose during Pride Month, on the specially-themed “Latin night.”
The deaths of these 49 innocent individuals was not only a tragedy of a loss of life, but also a loss of security. It was a reminder that even in 2016, with so much progress made, simply being LGBT can be a death sentence.
Their murderer, Omar Mateen, opened fire on the nightclub shortly after 2 a.m. on June 12, 2016. During the shooting, Mateen made a 911 call where he pledged loyalty to ISIS. Mateen had used LGBT dating apps to target the innocent and had planned his attack.
Though Mateen was killed by police in the ensuing firefight, his surviving wife is being held on charges of aiding and abetting her husband, as well as obstruction of justice. She has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Today, memorials are being held nationwide to honor those lives lost and to commit to a brighter, safer America today. In Orlando, city officials declared the day a “day of Love and Kindness.” Mourners gathered at the nightclub-turned-memorial early in the morning to remember.
Governor Rick Scott, who was criticized for not doing enough to publicly support the LGBT community in the wake of the shooting, has ordered flags statewide to be flown at half-staff today in memorial.
A viral meme encompassing the true tragedy of the event has circulated since the day of the shooting, and remains just as poignant now as then. Created by visual artist R Daniel Foster, the image features two crown-adorned men locked in a waltz. The caption reads: “for all those who just wanted to dance.”