PULSE: One Year Later

One year ago today, something unthinkable happened: a gunman with terror on his mind and hatred in his heart decided to take out his depravity on a nightclub in my birth city of Orlando, Florida.  When all was said and done, 49 innocent souls and the gunman lay dead in that club.  I am, of course, talking about the PULSE nightclub, and that shooting is considered the deadliest mass shooting in American history.

While I did not know any of the victims personally, it still affected me because of the connection I have with the LGBT community, a community from which I have made several friends over the years.  Some of these friends I knew for only a few years before life happened and  we would go off in opposite directions and ambitions, others I remain close with.  It broke my heart when I awoke that morning to news of the carnage that had occurred overnight.  Many of the victims that night were LGBT, but some of them were also friends, family, and allies to their loved ones in the LGBT community that had come to enjoy what was supposed to be a fun-filled evening with music, dancing, and lots of positive vibes.  No matter the orientation of the victims, the friends, families, and those who loved the 49 most dearly have now spent the last year trying to learn how to live with the voids in their hearts that the tragedy created and trying to live a life without their loved ones.

I heard people try to minimize the effect this tragedy on the LGBT community by only referring to it as an act of terror; others ignored the act of terror portion and solely called it a hate crime.  Personally, I think it was both: it was an act of terror because the gunman had a religious/political motive, but it was also a hate crime because he specifically targeted the LGBT community.  No matter the motive, it does not change the fact that 49 souls will never again return home to their families, 49 souls will never again smile and laugh with their friends, and 49 souls will never again feel the many kinds of love that drive us all through life.  The “why” does not and will not fix the “what”.

The way that the city of Orlando came together in the aftermath was nothing short of beautiful.  The (Democratic) Mayor of Orlando, Buddy Dyer, and the (Republican) Mayor of Orange County, Teresa Jacobs, both joined forces to lead the mourning in a city reeling from the darkest weekend in its history (a singer named Christina Grimmie had been murdered in another club in an unrelated incident just 24 hours earlier) and help The City Beautiful get back on her feet, pick up the pieces, and find a way to live once again.  Orlando City SC, our local MLS squad, led a moving ceremony before its home match a few days later where the fans sang along to our national anthem (almost unheard of at American sporting events; fans here usually stay silent during the singing of it), and a moment of silence held when the game clock reached 49 minutes.  (When Orlando City moved to its new stadium this spring, 49 seats were painted in a rainbow color scheme in tribute.).  It has been an emotional year since then.

Orlando, a city that I like to call the “Jewel of the South”, has come quite a way since that night at PULSE one year ago.  My heart is with her as she continues to heal.  If there’s anything about Orlando that is its most incredible attribute, it is that she bends, but does not break in the face of tragedy.  She survives, she advances, she thrives, she embraces.  Orlando is one of the few major cities in the South that has embraced its LGBT community the way it has, in the face of other cities and states in this region fighting to marginalize and keep basic civil rights away from the same community.  Orlando is called “The City Beautiful” for a reason: it’s not just for her physical beauty, it’s also for the beauty in her resolve in the face of adversity and tragedy.  I’m proud to have been born there, and I’m proud to still have a connection to her, 30 years later.  May the 49 souls who lost their lives that night forever rest in peace.

5 thoughts on “PULSE: One Year Later

    • Thank you. I think today will be a day of reflection for many here in Central Florida. If 9/11 and its aftermath taught us anything, it’s that those of us who lost a loved one will find a way to pick up the pieces and live without them, and those of us who didn’t lose a loved one but were still greatly affected will have been changed…but we still found a way to just keep living, all these years later. It will take time for the families of those killed at PULSE and the survivors of that night to just keep living, but the healing has already begun.

      I hope other Southern cities will learn from Orlando’s example and learn to embrace their LGBT communities and not try to marginalize or victimize them through their laws. Even before the PULSE tragedy, Orlando was unique in how it embraced its LGBT community: for years the city and various businesses (including Disney World) had organized a yearly event called Gay Days where LGBT people from all over could come and visit and socialize and enjoy themselves. Before marriage equality became legal here in January 2015 (a few months before the Supreme Court decision that legalized it nationwide), Orlando was one of the first cities in Central Florida to open a domestic partnership registry, where couples of any gender composition (not just heterosexual) could register their partnership with the local government and receive some limited benefits (which, for same-sex couples who weren’t legally able to marry at the time, was better than nothing). I should mention that many murals dedicated to the PULSE victims and Orlando’s LGBT community have gone up in the past year, and none of them have been defaced so far. I will never stop loving that city. I was born there, and I think given its relatively central location in the Florida Peninsula, Orlando is the heartbeat and the pulse of Florida.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I love that the stadium has 49 rainbow seats, that shows true passion for the victims. We had a NeoNazi let off a nail bomb in Admiral Duncan in Soho in London 18 years ago this April, the same thug let bombs off in two other places in the capital, just because he had hate for the LGBT, but the Admiral bomb killed a pregnant woman, her husband, and their best man. His actions caused severe injury of over 130 people. His excuse was he hated minorities and wanted them out the country and believed in the master race. It does, and always will astound me how people can become so indoctrinated into this insane belief that people not like them should not be on the planet. He was given 50 years in prison, however, I would have put him in solitary confinement until the end of his days. It is a shame that we do not have corporal punishment here in the UK as you have in the USA.


    • Do you mean capital punishment? Just wondering, because corporal here just means beating or physically hurting a person for punishment, while capital punishment is the death penalty. Personally, I am in favor of abolishing the death penalty, but just about every state here offers life in prison without the possibility of parole as an alternative punishment to the death penalty (these days, about the only crimes here that have the death penalty as an option are first degree murder, terrorism, and treason). And life without parole here means exactly that, the convicted spends the rest of their life in prison with no chance for release.

      It doesn’t matter your religious or political persuasion, any person who holds extreme ideological views and commits violence with a political, religious, or ideological motive and the intent to harm and intimidate people is a terrorist. The Neo-Nazi you describe is just as much of a terrorist as the man who shot up PULSE. The man you describe would’ve likely gotten the harshest of punishments in the States: either the death penalty or life in prison without parole, likely in a Supermax federal prison (just about all terrorism cases here are tried in federal courts, not state courts).


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