Yesterday's shocking attack on Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, which left at least fifty dead and injured more than fifty others in a mass shooting larger than any other in U.S. history, sent ripple effects to communities across the country, including Denver.
The Mile High City is ramping up toward this weekend's annual Denver PrideFest, and at a vigil held last night at Tracks Denver that reportedly attracted more than 1,500 people, speaker after speaker made it clear that the hateful assault won't stop LGBTQ individuals here and beyond from living their lives with love and dignity.
One frequently heard phrase: "We are Orlando."
The tone for the rally was set earlier in the day by Dave Montez, executive director of One Colorado, which describes itself as "the state’s leading advocacy organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Coloradans and their families," via a moving statement that alluded to PrideFest.
“We are shocked and devastated by the horrible shooting that occurred in Orlando last night, and our hearts are with the victims and families who have been impacted by this horrific act of violence targeting the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community in Orlando.”
“June commemorates Pride month, and gay clubs hold a significant place in LGBTQ history. They were often the only safe gathering place for LGBTQ people, and this horrific act strikes directly at our sense of safety. We will all continue to work to address the hatred that causes these senseless acts of violence in hopes that something like this never happens again.”
Among the dignitaries who spoke at Tracks Denver was state senator Pat Steadman, seen in this Facebook video:
Also sharing their thoughts were Representative Diana DeGette....
...U.S. Senator Michael Bennet....
...and Denver mayor Michael Hancock.
Afterward, Denver Tracks posted the following message:
Incredible turnout tonight in support of our friends from Pulse Orlando! We can't thank our friends and allies enough for being here beside us and look forward to celebrating our 36th Pride with you all this week! ?#?NoPlaceForHate? ?#?WeAreOrlando?
Here's a sampling of the heartfelt responses this item generated:
It was beautiful beyond words. Thank you so much for holding this vigil.
Thank you for having us. I felt quite blessed to bring my 13 year old "sparklingly bisexual" (her term) daughter. It was an important evening to share with her.
I was there. Beautiful and touching tribute.
Denver PrideFest has a full slate of events scheduled for each day of the week leading up to PrideFest, June 18 and 19. The first, at 11 a.m. today, finds the GLBT Community Center of Colorado marking its fortieth anniversary by hosting "How the Center Began: Meet the Founders," a gathering at the First Unitarian Society of Denver; click here for more information.
A large crowd is anticipated for the Cheesman Park rally — and even more pride.
Look below to see three more videos from last night's gathering, including one in which those gathered join in singing Bill Withers's "Lean on Me."