LGBT Community Holds Vigil for Orlando Victims

Members of the local LGBT community light pride-colored candles in remembrance of those lost during the recent Orlando massacre.
Members of the local LGBT community light pride-colored candles in remembrance of those lost during the recent Orlando massacre.

EL CENTRO — The local LGBT community and supporters gathered together Monday evening at Bucklin Park showing support of the victims lost and wounded during the recent Orlando mass shooting in the early hours last Sunday.

 “The overall goal for the event was to have the LGBT community come in and be united,” explained Eva Murguia, founder of the Imperial County LGBTransgender Coalition. “We wanted to come in peace and just show support for those unfortunate victims in the Orlando, Florida shooting.”

 In the early morning of Sunday, June 12th, a mass shooting took place at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. A total of 49 victims were killed, with the gunman, Omar Mateen making the count 50. Fifty-three others were found wounded inside the nightclub. This attack is the deadliest mass shooting by a single gunman in U.S. history. The slaughter is also known as the deadliest terrorist attack on U.S. soil since the September 11 attacks.

 “This was very shocking,” said Murguia, “and I think it affected everybody in the community, not just the Imperial Valley, but everywhere in the country. We have contact with the Mexicali LGBT, which is another coalition, and they were affected as well. It was a very shocking moment for all of us and a lot of people are afraid, but we cannot live in fear. We have to be united and we have to show that we’re here.”

 Supporters and members of local community organizations such as the IC LGBTransgender Coalition, the IVC LGBT Club, the Imperial Valley LGBT Resource Center, and PFLAG El Centro were present at the vigil to show their support of the victims in Orlando.

 The vigil began with Pastor Ron Griffen from First Methodist Church giving a short speech on the tragedy that occurred. He then asked those present to bow their heads and join hands for a moment of silence. Flags representing LGBT and transgenders were held among the people during the time of prayer. The floor was then open for anyone who had something to share with the rest of the group.

 Throughout the open discussion, supporters made clear that love conquers all and that the LGBT community will continue to show love throughout this difficult time. The group also reflected on the progression of the LGBT support in the local community.

 A short walk was then organized down the Eighth Street side of Bucklin Park in remembrance of those lost during the tragic massacre. Supporters held candles and displayed LGBT flags and colored balloons throughout the walk.

 “The candles are basically representing the lighting of the path for the souls that were lost and the balloons were to show respect for those unfortunate lives lost,” said Murguia.

 The vigil ended with supporters releasing balloons into the night sky, each receiving its own applause and hope for change in the near future.

 “I think the overall outcome was great,” commented Murguia. “I really didn’t think that this many people were going to show up and they are from all around the Imperial Valley. It’s a tremendous outcome.”

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