Following The Mass Shooting In Orlando, Dallas’ LGBTQIA Community Showed Its Strength.
Early Sunday morning, the U.S. experienced its worst case of domestic terrorism since 9/11 when an American-born man pledged to ISIS killed 49 people and wounded 53 others during a shooting rampage at a gay nightclub in Orlando.
Following the tragic news, the LGBTQIA community in Dallas and its supporters gathered at the Resource Center at Cedar Springs and Inwood for a candlelight vigil mourning the victims, followed by a silent march to the Legacy of Love Monument on Oak Lawn. In spite of some unpleasant rain, many gathered to listen to speeches from Mayor Mike Rawlings and other area civic and religious leaders, including Alia Salem from the Council on American-Islamic Relations and others.
“We have an interfaith gathering, a secular human gathering and a social human gathering of people from North Texas today who are here to condemn the horrific acts that took place yesterday in Orlando, Florida,” Salem said during her speech. That was true: Everyone there was filled with a mix of anger, sadness, frustration and passion.
“I would like to say all of our hearts and all of our prayers and minds are with the victims and their families in this horrific time,” Salem later added. “We feel their pain and we send all of our love to them.”
Other notable moments came from the Dallas pastor who said, “I am not ready to give religion a pass. Anyone who knows me knows I am not anti-religion, but I am critical on a religion that uses the bible to make themselves supreme against other people.”
And acknowledging the city’s own recent history of violence against the gay community in Oak Lawn, Mayor Rawlings stressed that, in this situation, our thoughts and prayers simply aren’t enough to solve these kind of problems.
“This act of terrorism that occurred in Orlando and the arrest in California are tragic illustrations of the legitimate safety fears the LGBTQIA community feels,” he said. “You live with it everyday. As I think about Orlando tonight, my focus is on Dallas. Are we doing enough in Dallas? Are we loving each other enough in Dallas? We need to do something. You know it’s easy to talk about as a foreign affairs, gun laws or mental illness. There are a lot of those things that are legitimate, but tonight I’m mourning and introspective on what we can do better.”
Far from a rah-rah moment, many in the crowd yelled back at the mayor, demanding faster and better results. On the whole, however, the vigil was a very peaceful one. And the rainbow that appeared once the skies finally began to clear up seemed both fitting and comforting.
As supporters from various walks of life held hands and walked pridefully down the streets of Cedar Springs through the area that locals oft refer to as the Gayborhood, it wasn’t just the family members that lost loved ones in the attack who were mourning or showing their support. More than that, what happened in Orlando was another reminder of the types of terrible acts the gay community endures on a daily basis.
And yet we’re still here, heads held high and marching. Eventually, people began to sing and letting speculators know that they are here — and proud to be.