It has been one month since the June 12 massacre on Latinx night at Pulse Orlando. While headlines about the tragedy have faded into the background, the process of healing and mourning is just beginning for the many who were directly impacted.
The scale, gravity and specificity of the attack on the nightclub—and the murders of 49 mostly Latinx, mostly LGBT people—drew attention on a national scale. In the weeks immediately following the tragedy, hundreds of vigils, marches and community conversations were organized around the country. Thousands expressed their grief and anger on social media. A month later, you can still see remnants of these feelings in profile pictures and cover photos acknowledging the victims.
In an op-ed published today, Nadine Smith, co-founder and CEO of Equality Florida, addressed the rumors about shooter Omar Mateen’s motives. There is no evidence of a connection to ISIS, she says. No evidence that he was a member of any gay dating websites, or a frequent attendee at Pulse. “Right now, the best evidence points to a far more common tale: Another delusional, young, American man, with a cultivated hatred toward a specific group and easy access to military-grade weapons, who believed mass murder would show the world he mattered,” she says.
Meredith Talusan, reporting for Buzzfeed, wrote about her recent time with the LGBT community in Orlando. From impromptu gatherings at friends’ houses to memorial services and fundraisers, it tells the story of many small moments in the life of the queer community in Orlando as it tries to move forward.
This past Saturday, hundreds of people poured into Robarts Arena in Sarasota, Florida, to say goodbye to Edward Sotomayor Jr.—but a week earlier, his memory was celebrated in a quieter way, by the queer family with whom he was his truest self. The 34-year-old Sarasota native of Puerto Rican descent is perhaps the most recognizable of the 49 people killed in the Pulse shooting in Orlando on June 12. He was the first victim to be identified, his photograph shared thousands of times across social and news media in the frenzied hours after the massacre, and for many days that followed.
Inside a nondescript beige house at the end of a cul-de-sac, 15 minutes from downtown Orlando, about a dozen people gathered to say their goodbyes. This was a private memorial for Eddie—as his friends called him—not with blood relatives, but the friends in the community he’d been closest to, who considered themselves part of his chosen family. It was the first time they all gathered together since the shooting.
Talusan spent a lot of time with employees of Pulse, many of whom are survivors of the shooting. Plans to reopen the club are already in progress, and other local LGBT establishments have been hosting benefits and fundraisers in the weeks since.
The massive wave of support for the victims of the shooting has also resulted in monetary aid for the community. More than 100,000 people donated over 7 million dollars via a campaign hosted by Smith’s organization. The money will be directed to a fund that will distribute money to support survivors and victims’ families.