David Lopez's picture

Two Years Ago Today We Lost 49 Lives at Pulse

Today marks the second anniversary of the tragic shootings that took place on June 12, 2016 at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, FL during their popular Latin night.

A horrific attack that took the lives of 49 LGBTQ+ people, including the majority Latinx and people of color, and allies. At the time, it was the largest mass shooting in modern-day US history. The shooter was finally killed after a several hour standoff with police, but the death toll had already reached 49 with 53 others injured. It was a night that we never expected would happen, but the happenings at Pulse have generated awareness for hatred, xenophobia, homophobia, and terrorism that has echoed now for two years.

Pulse nightclub has not re-opened. Instead, the site of the shooting has been turned into a temporary memorial with plans to create a permanent memorial by 2020.

It is important that as part of the LGBTQ+ family we continue to honor the lives of the 49 victims who lost their lives on a night where they danced under the disco ball with friends and family in a space that was meant to be a safe haven—a sanctuary—free of judgment, free of fear. But that was stripped away from us and we should keep the memory alive of these 49 individuals as a reminder that nothing is for granted and we must all do our part to speak out against injustice and hate on a daily basis.

Stanley Almodovar III, 23 years old

Amanda L. Alvear, 25 years old

Oscar A. Aracena Montero, 26 years old

Rodolfo Ayala Ayala, 33 years old

Antonio Davon Brown, 29 years old

Darryl Roman Burt II, 29 years old

Angel Candelario-Padro, 28 years old

Juan Chavez Martinez, 25 years old

Luis Daniel Conde, 39 years old

Cory James Connell, 21 years old

Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25 years old

Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32 years old

Simón Adrian Carrillo Fernández, 31 years old

Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25 years old

Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26 years old

Peter Ommy Gonzalez Cruz, 22 years old

Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22 years old

Paul Terrell Henry, 41 years old

Frank Hernandez, 27 years old

Miguel Angel Honorato, 30 years old

Javier Jorge Reyes, 40 years old

Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19 years old

Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30 years old

Anthony Luis Laureano Disla, 25 years old

Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32 years old

Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21 years old

Brenda Marquez McCool, 49 years old

Gilberto R. Silva Menendez, 25 years old

Kimberly Jean Morris, 37 years old

Akyra Monet Murray, 18 years old

Luis Omar Ocasio Capo, 20 years old

Geraldo A. Ortiz Jimenez, 25 years old

Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36 years old

Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32 years old

Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35 years old

Enrique L. Rios, Jr., 25 years old

Jean Carlos Nieves Rodríguez, 27 years old

Xavier Emmanuel Serrano-Rosado, 35 years old

Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz, 24 years old

Yilmary Rodríguez Solivan, 24 years old

Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34 years old

Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33 years old

Martin Benitez Torres, 33 years old

Jonathan A. Camuy Vega, 24 years old

Juan Pablo Rivera Velázquez, 37 years old

Luis Sergio Vielma, 22 years old

Franky Jimmy DeJesus Velázquez, 50 years old

Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37 years old

Jerald Arthur Wright, 31 years old

In Orlando, vigils and tributes have been held all day, the first beginning at 2:02 a.m. the exact time the first shots were fired at Pulse. Across the city 49 bells rang at noon honoring the victims. The onePULSE Foundation is also hosting an Annual Remembrance Ceremony at the Pulse site at 7 p.m.

At the Pulse Rally at Orlando City Hall, Brandon Wolf, a survivor of the mass shooting said:

Six hundred and twelve days. That’s how long it took for Pulse headlines to become Parkland headlines. … That’s how long it took for 49 lives lost to become 17 more. And in those 612 days, nothing changed.

Two years ago, I was washing my hands in a bathroom sink when I heard an assault rifle fire 45 rounds in one minute. I’ll never forget the smell of blood and smoke burning in the inside of my nose. It wasn’t until after that I learned that 13 of those rounds killed my best friends. But the real crime here is that my story isn’t unique anymore.

Maria Wright, the mother of Pulse victim Jerry Wright also shared how on the night of the shootings she was at dinner with friends talking about her son:

Just a few hours later, that pride was smashed and destroyed by hate and bullets. My beloved son and 48 others … were ripped from our lives. But it is becoming so commonplace, we’re beginning to accept it as normal. It is not normal for our children to die while they sit at school, eat at a restaurant, pray in church, listen to music at a concert or dance in a club. We deserve better. Our children deserve better. And we must let our leaders know that we expect better. … We mustn’t just lift our voice. We must roar.

In memory of the victims of Pulse and their families, I'd like to share the poem that helped me find words two years ago when I couldn't.

 

The rainbow is a prism.

An infinite spectrum of light--symbol of love,

A gleam of what life is,

A unifying representation of colors blended,

Colors mixed, intertwined, coexisting

Creating harmony.

 

The rainbow is a prism.

 

Knowing that other lives matter,

With sounds of energy,

Sense of belonging,

Shields from darkness and grey.

Regenerating,

Reverberating,

Through the smoke and glitter of our pain.

 

The rainbow prevails.

 

It is the pounding of our hearts,

exasperating every last trial,

Every last tribulation,

Aiding in the lift up of struggle,

In the denouncing of disrespect,

It is the laughter in the face of the beast that attempts to knock us down, one by one, ignoring that we too, are human.

 

The rainbow is a prism.

A shape refracting light,

Birthing might,

Bringing battery to power our charge,

Synergy to overcome our harm.

 

It is a prism.

 

It is an eternal wave.

The judged. The persecuted. The damaged. The misunderstood. The hated. The abused. The battered. The outcasts. The willing. The beautiful.

The rainbow is that prism.

Pulse.

 

Creating color from light.

Raising voices to get louder and echo and rumble with passion and conviction in spite of what the world acknowledges and chooses to believe as truth. We are a rainbow.

An irrefutable force to be reckoned with.

Yet when we are cut, we bleed. And although blood flows, our multitude of colors do not run. They grow brighter.

The rainbow is a prism.

 

An infinite spectrum of light, symbol of love,

A gleam of what life is,

A unifying representation of colors blended,

Colors mixed, intertwined, coexisting

Creating union,

Creating hope,

Creating ourselves,

Even in the darkest of days.

h/t: Orlando Sentinel