Provo LGBT community honors Orlando victims

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Members and supporters of the LGBT community gathered in Memorial Park on Saturday to honor the victims of the Orlando shooting. (Natalie Saunders)

Members of the LGBT community gathered at Provo’s Memorial Park on Monday to honor the victims of Sunday’s shooting in Orlando. Grieving community members came together to remember those lost and provide comfort and support to one another.

Utah Pride Center conducted a similar vigil in Salt Lake City in tandem with the Provo vigil.

“The terrorist attack was perpetrated because of hatred,” said James Bunker, Board President for Provo Pride, who conducted the vigil. “Hatred is only contradicted or counteracted with love. We have shown the world that ‘love wins’ over and over throughout our journey of equality.”

Bunker further spoke about inherent dignity.

“We have shown the world that our diverse community can work together in crossing and breaking social barriers, race lines, bigotry and gender roles,” Bunker said. “We have shown the world that none of this matters when you simply see everyone as a human being. A human that may be different from you, but a human that we can all love, even with all of our differences.”

Other members of the LGBT community and their supporters expressed condolences to family members and friends of victims and expressed love and support for those who are suffering.

“My heart goes out to the families and loved ones of those slaughtered in Orlando,” said John Harper, candidate for Utah Attorney General.

Harper continued to say that the community needs to be doing more to protect LGBT groups. “We need to decide to do something.” Harper said, “As a community, we must renew our resolve to support and protect all members of our community, especially the LGBT members.”

Many expressed concern for the Utah community and wanted to share outlets for those LGBT community members to find relief and a save-haven when they might feel threatened or alone.

Police chief John King came to show their support and shared their promise to protect the LGBT group to the best of their ability. (Natalie Saunders)

Provo Police Chief John King expressed his support, explaining that he represented the Provo Police as well as Mayor John Curtis, who was unable to attend.

“The police are here because we are you. We have sadness, but we also have hope. I want the Provo LGBT community to understand that the Provo Police are here to support you and are here to protect you as best as we can,” King said.

Many members of the community came out to participate in the vigil and receive comfort. Many expressed their feelings on the recent attack.

“First I wanted to be apathetic towards it. I didn’t want to feel badly; I didn’t want to empower ISIS. I wanted them to know that nothing can hurt me. But as days progress and I saw the family members, I couldn’t help but feel sympathetic and empathetic,” vigil participant Felix Klaoud said. “We all feel terror, especially as gay people. I used to hate being gay because I was afraid that something like this would happen and so I don’t attend Pride because I’m afraid there will be some radical person out there and my worst fear came true for someone else … I want to be able to do something to help.”

Natalie Saunders
Many present felt sadness and grief for those who lost their lives as well as the victims’ families. Here Blaire Ostler pins a heart to add to the collection. (Cassandra Shaffer)

Provo community member Cody Horrocks said he was angry because he liked to think things have improved for the gay community. Horrocks explained he wants to be more active and fight for his people and community.

After a reading of the victims’ names, a moment of silence was held in honor of those who lost their lives in the Orlando shooting. Members of the audience were invited to share their thoughts and feelings. Afterwards, the crowd joined together in singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” in memory of those who died.

The LGBT community invites all who would like more information or to receive support to visit utahpridecenter.org.

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