50 patrons of a gay bar were killed Sunday


By William K. Alcorn

alcorn@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

Anger, disgust, sadness, disbelief and determination to continue living their lives are among the reactions of local lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender supporters to 50 people being killed in an Orlando, Fla., nightclub.

A gunman who pledged allegiance to ISIS opened fire early Sunday, killing 50 and wounding dozens more in what is considered the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

“I am angry. I am furious,” said Youngstown Councilwoman Anita Davis, D-6th, a retired Youngstown Police Department sergeant.

“Fifty people were killed, and many more are lying in the hospital. On the face of it, it’s a hate crime. It’s a terrorist attack,” Davis said.

“But, we won’t know the motivation behind the shootings until the investigation is complete,” she said.

Pride Youngstown, a gay/straight alliance, is coordinating a vigil of remembrance at 9 tonight on the Mahoning County Courthouse steps.

“This is not going to stop us. We will proceed with the activities we have planned,” Davis said.

”I’m horrified that we live in a country where people kill people because of who they love,” said Atty. Kim Akins, a member of the Pride Youngstown board.

“The thing is, we are going to go forward. This is not going to make us back up from making sure that people can live their lives the way they want to. So we’ll be out at night and in public at the Pride Festival, and we’re going to protect our brothers and sisters and move this country forward,” Akins said.

A statement from the board of Pride Youngstown was issued Sunday.

In part it says: “We mourn the loss of 50 brothers and sisters in Orlando, Fla. We mourn the pain of the others wounded in this senseless act of malice. We mourn the fact that there is still so much hatred for people perceived as different. We mourn the fact that this country still believes that the right to own a military grade weapon supersedes the right to live in peace and freedom from fear.

“But here’s what we’re not going to do: We are not going back. We will not live in fear. We will not hide away to satisfy the bigotry and stupidity of people not ready to live in the 21st Century. We will continue to love, to celebrate and create a world where people can live how they want. And we ask that people of good heart and good will join us in moving this country forward and rebuking the intolerance of the hatefully small minded wherever they encounter them. We love and we will continue to love in spite of the haters. And we will make this world safe for all our people to continue to love.”

“I can’t put into words the loss we all feel. That the largest shooting in modern American history happened at a gay bar is a sign that we have a long, long way to go,” said Alana Jochum, executive director of Equality Ohio, in a statement released Sunday.

“Today, I also remember that transgender people, in particular black and brown transgender women, face incredible violence just for existing. We have marriage equality, but that was never the end. Marriage equality was a baton in a relay race. We stand in solidarity with our Muslim LGBTQ Ohioans and allies to look for a future where people can be themselves without fear,” she said.

Equality Ohio, which educates and advocates for LGBTQ Ohioans, extended the deepest sympathy to the victims and surviving friends and family in Orlando’s LGBTQ community.

Equality Ohio is asking people in mourning to wear white ribbons at school and at work in solidarity with everybody affected by this incident.

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