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We Are Orlando
(Blogmensgo, gay blog of June 15, 2016) In the early morning of June 12, an assassin shot 49 people in the Pulse Orlando Club, a highly popular LGBT club in Orlando, Florida. After taking many hostages, he was shot by a special task force. This has by far been the worst terrorist attack in the USA since September 11, 2001.
Orlando: 50 dead at homophobic attack
29-year-old Omar Mateen attacked the Pulse Orlando Club, a gay and lesbian nightclub in Florida, towards two o’clock in the morning. After the shooting, he took all the remaining clubbers as hostages. Two hours later, special force troops stormed the club and killed the assassin.
Pulse Orlando, in memoriam.
Of a total of 350 clubbers, 49 were dead and 53 wounded in the morning of June 12. All had become victims of what they were: Gays, lesbians, bi- and transsexuals and queers.
An investigation led by the FBI in 2013 and 2014 had not yielded any concrete connections of Mateen with terrorist movements. The Islamist group Islamic State claimed responsibility for this attack – but it is not clear yet whether this is true or not.
No leading politician in the US has so far commented on the clearly homophobic character of this attack. People in other countries also mostly focused on the connection to Islamist terrorism.
If this nightclub had been part of the Jewish community, then certainly everyone would have quickly underlined the anti-Semitic character of the attack.
Neither the American politicians nor the media have emphasized how much the Islamic State movement focuses on discriminating, persecuting, arresting, torturing and killing gays – simply because they are not straight.
Many organizations in the US have appealed to the public to give blood. As we know, gay men may only give blood in the US if they have had no sexual contacts during the last 12-month period. However, no one commented on the grotesque situation that gays may not follow such an appeal to help their own community.
President Obama ordered to fly the flags at half-mast on all federal buildings, and many public, religious and private buildings were quickly decorated with the rainbow flag to show their support for the LGBT community and underline the homophobic character of the attack. The assassin’s father remembered his son’s frequent homophobic behavior.
Symbols of support around the world.
Many public buildings around the world quickly showed the rainbow colors, such as the Eiffel Tower in Paris and memorials in Auckland and Wellington (New Zealand), Sydney (Australia), Guadalajara (Mexico), Warsaw (Poland) or Tel-Aviv (Israel).
Mourning in Los Angeles
On Sunday, June 12, the Los Angeles Pride parade looked like a funeral procession. The 150,000 participants and spectators showed their anger against hate crimes, homophobic criminals, their instigators and all those who exploit such sad events for their own benefit – like presidential candidate Donald Trump.
By a hair’s breadth, the Californian pride parade would have been affected, too: Not far from the parade, a 20-year-old was arrested in his vehicle filled with guns, ammunition and explosives. As it seems, he wanted to turn the Pride Parade into a massacre.
Sympathy and condolences around the world
Many high-ranking politicians, government leaders and heads of state have expressed their condolences and support in official statements. French president François Hollande for example tweeted that “the homophobic attack of Orlando represented an attack on America and the freedom: The freedom to live according to one’s sexual orientation and make choices about one’s own life.”
We all here at MensGo and BlogMensGo express our sincere sympathy to our brothers and sisters in Orlando and wish all those involved with their families and friends lots of strength in coping with last weekend’s unbelievably violent incident.
[Update of September 8, 2016:]
Sia honors Orlando victims
Australian singer Sia published the video clip of her song The Greatest on September 6, 2016. The text and even more so the video scenes honor the victims of the Orlando attack.
The lyrics of the song written by Sia and Greg Kurstin indicate that it was written to commemorate the Orlando victims. However, it seems that the lyrics had already been written before the Orlando shooting.
In any case, the clip and the choreography leave no doubt about the openly bisexual singer's intentions.
In the beginning of the song, we see inanimate bodies and a young girl with sad and desperate looks painting the rainbow colors on her face.
This young girl is Maddie Ziegler, a dancer and actress who was just under 14 years old at the time of the video shooting. In the video, we see her with exactly 48 other people whose lifeless bodies are spread out on the floor in the end.
This means that the video shows a total of 49 people, the exact number of persons who died during the shootings in the Pulse Club in Orlando on June 12, 2016.
It is fair to say that Maddie Ziegler plays the role of her life in this video. The young American artist yields a highly convincing and moving performance.
Obviously, director Daniel Askill, choreographer Ryan Heffington and the young dancers also did a wonderful job.
The director of photography used the right lighting to give the scenes a somber cemetary atmosphere that perfectly reflects the horrible drama of Orlando.
Thank you very much Sia, Maddie Ziegler and Ryan Heffington for this wonderful piece of art, which will always remind us of the dreadful events of Orlando.
[End of update.]
[Update of May 6, 2017:] Barbara Poma, the owner of the Pulse Club in Orlando declared on May 4, 2017 that she wants to transform the club into a memorial site until 2020. She explains this long period of time with the fact that very difficult aministrative procedures are necessary.
The Pulse Nightclub has been closed since the shooting of June 12, 2016.
The transformation of the club into a memorial is initiated by the onePULSE Foundation, a foundation whose CEO and director is Barbara Poma herself. Her project is supported by many volunteers including survivors of the shooting and family members of some of the victims.
The board of directors of the foundation, presided by lawyer Earl Crittenden, has to decide on the details of the plans for the club's future in which the LGBT community of Orlando will also be involved. Most likely, the memorial will be called “Pulse Memorial.”
The future memorial at the site on which 49 people died is supposed to be funded by donations. Some of the donations will also go to the families of the deceased and the survivors (including 68 injured).
Barbara Poma had opened the Pulse Nightclub in 2004 in remembrance of her brother John who had died of AIDS.