Dozens of people gathered at the Gulfport Public Library on Wednesday, June 12 at 6:30 p.m. to pay tribute to those killed or wounded at the LGBTQ Pulse Nightclub shooting massacre that occurred in Orlando on Sunday, June 12, 2016. The Gay Pride flag was lowered to half staff. “Love is an action verb. And, this year we are called to honor them with action – the 49 members of our LGBTQ+ communities whose lives were taken far too early in a space that is sacred to us because it’s where we go to be safe, where we can be ourselves and connect with others and build community,” said Florida District 69 Representative Jennifer Webb. “We honor them with action by looking internally. Where do we still hold bias? Where can we encourage ourselves to be more tolerant, more loving and more inclusive? We honor them with action by demanding that we have policies in our state that acknowledge that our LGBTQ+ community is as deserving of protections as other minority groups and that we deserve equality.” The names and ages of those killed were then read aloud and a commemorative red or yellow rose for each person was placed inside a basket that was lined with 53 Gay Pride flags representing the number of people wounded, said event co-organizer Jon Ziegler. Vice Mayor Paul Ray was also a co-organizer of the annual ceremony. Afterward, the flower basket became a part of the ArtOut display, which is inside the library through June as part of Gay Pride month. Pictured in the foreground, from left, are Gulfport residents Webb, Ray, Shaun Silverleaf, the artist who created the 2017 local Pulse memorial painting that was signed by that year’s attendees, and Ziegler.
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