I was home alone in the early morning hours of Sunday, June 12, a week ago today. Time was creeping up on 2am. I was working on some posts for this blog, and took a break to clear my head. I refreshed my Facebook feed and this came up on my screen:
Then others started commenting on the post, and it became clear there was a shooting at Pulse nightclub. Over the hours to come, details would become clearer. The initial 20 dead would climb to 50 dead. But then it became 49 because it was felt the shooter didn’t deserve to be memorialized with the 49 innocent souls he took that night.
I spent hours watching the news and refreshing my FB feed. Seeing photos of people who had been shot, and live news interviews with mothers waiting to find out if their child was among the dead. It was truly mind-numbing that such senseless violence had come to Orlando.
I lost it completely when I heard one of the first responders saying they could hear phones ringing as they were walking through the club trying to find survivors, and the phones never got answered because the people were dead.
But as dawn brought fingers of light to the morning sky, a truly remarkable thing happened. Orlando, still in the throes of pain and figuring out what had happened, came together to help each other.
A call for blood donations was answered by literally over 1000 people – so many people that the donation centers ran out of supplies. Businesses brought food and drink to those waiting to donate, and individuals spent their own money to do the same. Even members of our Muslim community broke their Ramadan fast to donate blood.
When we heard the Westboro Baptist Church was coming to Orlando to spread its message of hate during the funeral processions, we took to the streets in huge numbers to drown them out. Two motorcycle groups accompanied the processions, revving their engines every time someone shouted anything hateful. The Orlando Shakespeare Theater group even made up angel outfits with huge wings to hide the WBC’s hate filled signs.
I try not to hate, but I hate hate hate that this happened in my city…my Orlando. My heart breaks not only for both the families and friends of the victims, but for our LGBTQ+ community. I didn’t know any of the 49 very well – a few I’d met at the theme parks where they’d worked – but I have friends who lost good friends that night.
I am so incredibly proud of the way the city has all come together. Even through our pain, we are doing what needs to be done and making sure that the survivors are taken care of. Businesses are holding benefits and there are more vigils being held around Central Florida.
I’ve never understood the hate directed at the LGBTQ+. If your religion tells you have to hate someone because they love someone of the same gender, your religion sucks. I don’t believe God put us on this planet to hate each other. Love, tolerance and understanding are what we should be showing others. Not hatred. Hatred is what got 49 people killed Sunday night.
I also think there should be tighter gun laws. I know there are a lot of responsible gun owners out there and I don’t want your guns taken away…unless you own a semi-automatic. I think semi-automatics should be banned for civilian use because their prime function is maximum kills in minimum time. I also think we need to have a better system for making sure terrorists and people associated with them (like the Orlando shooter), or the mentally unstable, can’t just walk in and buy a gun. How many people have to die before our politicians stand up to the NRA and its campaign/lobbyist money, and actually do something??
Anyways, it’s been a week since the shooting. I’m still hurting in my heart. When something like this happens in your home city, there are no words to aptly describe the emotions and feelings.
Still not sleeping well. Still crying every time I hear or read a story on the shooting. Still trying to figure out what more I can do to help those who are hurting worse than me.
But in the meantime, I’m going to try to finish those posts I was working on when this all started. Maybe throwing myself into the work will help calm my mind.
I’ve posted a bunch of stuff about this week in Orlando over at CitySurfingOrlando.com, if you want to know more about what has been happening. If you want to donate to the relief efforts, visit oneorlando.com or the Equality Florida GoFundMe.
I’m going to close this with a song that I feel matches the tone of this last week. Here is the Black Eyed Peas performing “Where Is The Love?”:
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