#LoveWins After Orlando Shooting

Before The World Prayed for Orlando

 

On the evening of June 11th, lawn chair toting Baby Boomers and Generation X-ers joined standing millennials (we haven’t quite mastered the ‘bring your own chair’ concept as we muttered “well now we know”) as we took over the lawn of Orlando’s Dr. Phillips Center of Performing Arts. Now a memorial lines the gorgeous lawn and rightfully so.

Teddy Riley and Blackstreet had sung their last note of an Orlando performance to be proud of to a sea of old school R&B music fans. Grabbing a snow cone on the way out of the Star 94.5 Old School Block Party, my friend and I headed deeper into downtown Orlando to meet a few friends and continue to enjoy our Saturday night.

 

Star 94.5 Old school block party prior to Orlando Shooting

Star 94.5 Old School Block Party

 

Wall St. Plaza had plenty of good eats, strong drinks & hot beats so we opted for a low key night over a dance club setting. Fun was had and from our Snapchat stories you’d think we were having the time of our lives. Reality? We were a broke aspiring entrepreneur and a broke freshly returned Europe traveller and both just felt like home was a safer bet for our wallets. Apparently, safer is an understatement.

 

 

 

Later as downtown Orlando began its rendition of Semisonic’s Closing Time, chaos broke out at Pulse Night Club. Whether you believe Omar Mateen was a “homegrown terrorist”, a closet gay man struggling with self-identity or a scapegoat for another politically induced conspiracy, lives were changed and loved ones lost.

pulse

Pulse Night Club

 

I awoke Sunday to my friend from the night before texting me what we missed. Sunday went from zero to sixty as the impact hit in back to back waves. Shortly after my phone lit up like it was May 19th and I was turning 30 all over again. Family and friends were checking in, some frantic as they had seen my Snapchat story.

When large scale tragedy hits your city, hits the streets you’d danced in mere hours before, it hits you close enough that you feel the flames but far enough that you don’t get burned. It could’ve been you and the friend you were with. It could have been his boyfriend working there that night. Drowning in tears and grief, we pulled ourselves out and went down to the pool.

orlando shooting vigil

Ember Bar and Restaurant hosts orlando shooting vigil

 

As Sunday’s sun set, that same friend and I, his boyfriend (a regular at Pulse needing solitude & sleep after hearing of 4 friends wounded, 1 fatally) staying behind, joined Orlando’s immediate solidarity & healing journey at Ember Bar & Restaurant’s vigil.

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