Media practitioners, artists and communities celebrate pride and remember Orlando around the world
Orlando’s LGBTQ community turned out by the hundreds to counter members from the Westboro Baptist Church, who had traveled from Kansas to protest outside of a funeral memorial at the Cathedral of St. Luke in downtown Orlando on Saturday, June 18, 2016. Photo by Les Neuhaus.
The Orlando attacks happened the same weekend that many cities around the world were celebrating Pride weekend. Weeks later, people across the nation and world are still mourning the terrible attack on the LGBTQ community. Just as “angels” From Orlando’s theater community guarded mourners from protesters during a memorial for those killed in the Pulse shooting, love overcame hate this month and Pride festivities went on.
Communities from London to Bogotá to Milwaukee united to celebrate Pride and commemorate those killed in Orlando. In spite of the sadness hanging over the nation, the NYC Pride Parade, which took place this past weekend, had a record 2.5 million attendees. Reminders of the recent tragedy were omnipresent in New York and around the world. Pride participants in Saint Petersburg carried signs and wore shirts with the names of victims of the Pulse shooting, others in San Fransisco carried signs reading “Orlando Strong” and “Somos Orlando” and “Orlando Vive,” and a group in New York marched silently and veiled in white carrying the name and photos of each of the victims killed in Orlando.
Here are a few examples of how media practitioners, artists and community members celebrated Pride and paid tribute to Orlando:
On Sunday afternoon, during NYC’s Pride weekend, Brain Pickings and the Academy of American Poets teamed up to host a pop-up poetry reading starring some of the greatest LGBTQ poets of our time. Poetry readers included: Brain Pickings founder Maria Popova, Jason Schneiderman, Kamilah Aisha Moon, Suzanne Gardinier, Carol Mirakove, Ricardo Maldonado, Trace Peterson, Jen Benka, Christopher Soto, David Tomas Martinez, Mark Doty, Joy Ladin, Haleh Liza Gafori, Kathy Greenberg, Donna Masini, Debbie Millman, and A.M. Homes.
The Brain Pickings Instagram page invited people to “feast [their] soul on a pop-up poetry reading” … “a beam of hope in these dispiriting times.” The collaborative reading offered poems in Washington Square Park to passers-bys as a form of solace, comfort and inspiration in the wake of the tragic events in Orlando. Throughout the two hour afternoon event approximately 30-40 people stopped by and over 2,000 people watched online through a livestream. “One of poetry’s great possibilities is to offer memorable and moving language, images, and ideas that unite us,” Jennifer Benka, executive director of the Academy of American Poets, told ivoh via email.
This Upworthy series was created to honor the one-year of nationwide marriage equality and what comes next. The site shares stories from LGBTQ individuals across the nation. In the wake of the Orlando shooting, the platform featured a story in which LGBTQ couples explain why they got married right after the Orlando tragedy and another titled “What I want you to talk about when you talk about the Orlando shooting.” The series features personal essays, offers candid advice about everything from coming out to family members to planning a wedding, and highlights media and art that embraces the LGBTQ community.
At the Joy Metropolitan Community Church on Sunday, the Orlando Gay Chorus sang “True Colors,” backed by a full congregation.
Orlando Gay Chorus sings "True Colors" at the Joy MCC vigil. Congregation members singing along through tears. pic.twitter.com/tNkAu7stiG
— Hayley Tsukayama (@htsuka) June 12, 2016
“It could have been me. I could have had my body riddled with bullets, my blood spilled, clothes drenched, crawling for my life on the dance floor of a gay bar,” writes Eliel Cruz in an essay published earlier this month by Rolling Stone. Cruz returned from celebrating Brooklyn pride with friends to learn about the Orlando shooting via Twitter. Many queer Latinx individuals were killed and injured at Pulse.
Cruz writes about Latinx community members who have been marginalized for sexual identity, race and skin color:
I will not whitewash their names. These were queer Latinx taken from us – a reminder that LGBT people of color are twice as likely to face violence than our white siblings. Luis. Juan. Gilberto. Angel. Rodolfo. Javier. These names are family for me, not through blood but by community. We shared heritage, as the victims were Latinx, and mostly Puerto Rican, like myself. We even shared last names. We shared pride in our queerness and our love for la isla del encanto.
The day after the shooting, Cruz stood with thousands outside Stonewall Inn to honor the memory of those lost. Throughout the essay Cruz reflects on being a proud queer Puerto Rican. “That pride – of both heritage and queerness – is what has made this massacre all the more real for me as a bisexual Puerto Rican,” Cruz writes.
There are many other examples of how media practitioners, artists and individuals stepped up this month to show support and promote inclusion after Orlando. The Men kissing men video, released by Seriously TV days after the shooting, turned comments of hate and bigotry into direct support for victims and families impacted by the Pulse shooting.
Love has emerged as a key theme in the aftermath of the attacks. As Lin-Manuel Miranda put it in his Tony’s sonnet, “love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love cannot be killed or swept aside.”
Related: First person perspective: Covering the Orlando massacre as a freelancer | The Washington Post shares how religious leaders responded to the Orlando shooting by fostering peace and acceptance | Orlando Sentinel focuses on community healing in wake of tragedy