Orlando, Florida vigil, June 13,2016
In the history book Mapping Gay L.A., author Moira Kenney coined the term “safe space” to refer to the gay bars of what became the LGBT-centric town of West Hollywood. These bars, sometimes owned by the American Mafia, scoffed at Prohibition laws of the 1920’s and 30’s and served illegal alcohol to customers engaged in illegal behavior of fraternizing with members of the same sex. These bars welcomed the presence of men and women who needed places to gather, and meet other people like themselves without fear the judgmental eyes of society. They were not truly safe spaces, as bar-goers endured harassment from local law enforcement, but at the time patrons were willing to risk the threat of being beaten by police in exchange for companionship.
Nightclubs in the our community are more than just places to get a drink or dance. They are part of our community. They are a cornerstone of our culture, the places where could gather when there was no other place to go. Although it is a challenge to feel safe in a “safe space” when subjected to events like what happened at Pulse.
The mass murder in Orlando on June 12, 2o16, where over 103 people were shot, and so far 49 have died, was not just an attack on one nightclub in Orlando. It was a targeted attack, both a hate crime and an act of terrorism, trying to take down our community in a place we consider a safe space. It was an attempt to make us fearful in our own spaces, everywhere across the globe.
We may bicker amongst ourselves, with no one even agreeing where our labels begin and end, adding an ever-streaming list of letters to the LGBTQIA moniker that melds all the various groups-within-the-group of our community. But like siblings who cannot leave a family reunion without an argument, we are nevertheless in this together.
The vigils for the people shot in Pulse show thousands of people who gathered out of grief, or anger, or simply because they didn’t know how to feel without the companionship of others.
Here are a collection of images from the gatherings…
Orlando, Florida vigil, courtesy Joe Saunders
London, England vigil, photo courtesy Duke of Wellington
New Orleans, Louisiana vigil, photo courtesy Neil Larrieu
San Francisco, California vigil, courtesy Sister Roma
San Diego, California vigil, courtesy Johnny Solomon
New York, New York vigil, courtesy Richard Davies
Calgary, Alberta vigil, courtesy Mitra Grondin
Provincetown, Massachusetts vigil
Fort Lauderdale vigil, courtesy Kev Gallagher