As people protest in their cities after the brutal killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, LGBTQ communities are doing their part to help elevate Black voices as a major focus of this year’s Pride Month agendas. This month also marks the fourth anniversary of the shooting massacre at Pulse, a popular nightclub in Orlando, on June 12, 2016 on Latin Night during Pride Month, which killed 49 people and wounded 53 more.
Every year since, Gulfport has hosted a remembrance – starting with the “Gulfport Remembers Day of Love, Unity & Community” on June 12, 2017 at the Gulfport Public Library. This year, due to COVID-19 concerns, Gulfport will not host a public event but there is still plenty of remembrance.
“The majority of those killed that night at Pulse were people of color,” said Gulfport Vice Mayor Paul Ray. “It is especially important to also remember that Black transgender people are some of the most affected in our community.”
Ray originally envisioned a permanent memorial to Pulse victims this year, located behind the library, where people could gather each year for a remembrance ceremony. The memorial is still a goal for the future. Because an event this year was not possible, however, elevating people’s voices took on an unanticipated urgency.
“We were unable to make the permanent structure this year,” said Ray, “but we wanted to create something that memorialized and supported Pulse victims and Black Lives Matter under the umbrella of Pride Month.”
With the help of Jon Ziegler, together they created a memorial to honor Pulse victims – displaying their names along with a Pride flag and rainbow heart next to each. The memorial to George Floyd includes a gold Black Lives Matter medallion created by Ziegler with the words “United We Stand,” and will include the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. quote: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” Both can be viewed in front of Ziegler’s residence at 2008 59thSt. S. in Gulfport.
While public events are canceled, virtual Pulse memorials will be held on Friday June 12. Empath Partners in Care will host The Pulse Nightclub Memorial Service at 12:15 p.m. Go to their Facebook page for more.
The annual A Time of Remembrance, hosted by Pulse Orlando, will be presented on Facebook and YouTube at 7 p.m. Find details here.
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