At approximately 2 a.m. June 12, a man, who police say is named Omar Mateen, entered Pulse nightclub armed with a handgun and an AR-15-type rifle. With those weapons, in cold blood, he murdered forty-nine members of our community, and injured at least fifty more.
The loss is unspeakable.
But the community is strong.
We will survive, and so we must speak.
Right now, we are focused on how to help, and how to get help. As Watermark, we will provide timely, accurate information on resources and support, both how to give them and how to get them. As members of the community, we will hold each other and cry for our friends. We will grieve this loss and we will hurt for the victims and those who loved them.
Then, we will tell the stories of strength and resilience that are already arising from this unfathomable tragedy. The survivors. The responders. The community who is working together to hold itself up, to prove that senseless violence will not destroy us. At this moment, we do not know the precise reason why the suspect chose Pulse as the target for his violence and hate, but the fact remains: he targeted gay people. Therefore, it is more important than ever that the Orlando LGBT community join together and bolster each other, as a message to those who hate us: You cannot silence us. You cannot destroy us. We aren’t going anywhere.
And finally, we will hold those responsible, accountable.
We’ve had worried friends and family, checking in, “Are you okay? Are you okay?”
No, we are not okay.
We may have personally survived the shooting, but fifty members of our close-knit, beloved community are dead. That is not okay. Nothing about this is okay.
But we will be, and here is how we know: Orlando’s LGBT community is organized, and generous, and mighty. We are a family. We will take our broken strands and weave them together, creating an even stronger tapestry of courage and life. Orlando will show the world that our LGBT community cannot be silenced, or ruined, or beaten down.
Our enduring story will not be a tragedy. The world will see our community, the care we have for each other, and how we draw strength from that love. Our story will be one of survival, and hope, and PRIDE.
The National Gay Media Association is stunned at the mass shooting at an LGBT club in Orlando, Florida. At least 50 people have been killed, and dozens more injured in the attack.
“Our hearts go out to the entire Orlando community,” said Leo Cusimano, publisher of The Dallas Voice, president of NGMA. “We lend our support to the community of Orlando, and the LGBTQ community nationally, as we all cope with the incredible sadness and anger this tragedy has caused.”
“Individuals in the LGBTQ community have been targeted for violence frequently over the years, but nothing on this scale,” said Tracy Baim, spokesperson for NGMA and publisher of Windy City Times. “We want to encourage the community to show their support by donating to the victims at https://www.gofundme.com/2942a444 . We also send our support to our member paper Watermark during this difficult time for their community.”
NGMA, a membership organization of 12 of the country’s top regional LGBT media, works together to help member newspapers. Orlando’s Watermark newspaper joined NGMA in 2015.