What happened at Pulse night club, in my hometown of Orlando, seemed like a nightmare. Sadly, we all know it was real and no matter where you live you too feel for those who are suffering. We all feel the pain and hurt, and wish we could help the victims, the loved ones and those left to rebuild. What defines a community is how it reactions in times of need, and our communities have shown that NOTHING can stop love. We have seen how the Orlando tragedy has united the local community, the Latin community, and the LGBTQ+ community, and all us internationally have come together in this time of hardship.
Orlando is my home. I spent six years growing and learning and loving our small city in Central Florida. I lived and worked and frequented these places. Orlando, The City Beautiful, is a community that does not distinguish between races, religions or sexual orientations. It is a city full of love and tolerance and support. Whatever your little niche, there was always a group to greet you with open arms.
Orlando is different than any other cities I’ve been to or lived in. Every group of friends looks like a melting pot of what makes that little city so magical. It isn’t Disney or Universal Studios that has made Orlando special; it is the love for our diverse and melted communities. Saturday night was Latin Night at a Gay Club, but a large number of those at Pulse were there supporting these communities. Everyone was welcomed, and it was this openness, this love, this happiness and joy that someone hated and tried to stop.
Mr. Rogers onces said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mothers would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” And this week, we have seen the helpers, from the people waiting in the eight hour lines to donate blood to those handing out food and water for those waiting to donate, from the GoFundMe for the families and the victims ages to companies like Jetblue offering free flight for family member. The way the international community has banded together reminds us, we are all one. One large and loving community. Look at all the helpers.
Because we are united, we are unstoppable, and love wins. Even if you’re not in Florida, there is so much you can do to help. The LGBTO+ community is hurting. The Latino community is hurting. We are all hurting, but this is a time for healing, and we can do that together with a little bit of help.
How to Help Heal After the Orlando Tragedy
- Donate. Maybe you’re on the other side of the country. Maybe you’re even in another country. Even if you can’t help in person, there’s so much the families and victims need right now. There’s currently a GoFundMe page that as of writing this is almost at $4 million dollars donated. It has broken GoFundMe records and is only growing. They need our help with expenses to get loved ones where they need to be and help with hospital and other costs. Even a few dollars help! You can donate here for the GoFundMe. You can also donate directly through the city at OneOrlandoFund here.
- Give Blood. If you are nearby in Florida, they are still asking for blood donations. On Sunday morning, Orlando called on its people for blood donations. What they got as a response was overwhelming! People lined up for up to eight hours in the heat, with some blood banks even having to turn people away to come back the next day. Others brought food and drinks to those in line. They stood and offered those waiting in the heat refreshments and anything else they needed. But this week, they still need more. If you are anywhere near the Central Florida area, please join the thousands of helpers in donating blood.
- Attend a Vigil. One of the most important things to remember in times of hardship is that there is power in our numbers. We cannot be backed down. We cannot be silenced. This was a hate crime against the LGBTQ+ community. This was a hate crime on my Latino community. This was a hate crime on happiness and community. Pulse was more than a night club; it was a place of congregation, a place of social justice and a place to be whoever you wanted to be. By attending a Vigil, we remember the victims and show we will not forget them, we will fight on. Vigils are being held internationally this week. Find a Vigil in your city. Here are the Vigils in New York. Stand together and show that #WeAreOrlando.
- Give Time. Counselors and translators and volunteers are needed. Many family members are flying in from other parts of the country or from Puerto Rico. Many are being helped with free boarding from local realtors, flights with Jetblue, and expenses from some of the donations, but they are still hurting. If you can give your time or services, many need them. Counseling and hotlines have also extended their help. UnitedHealth Group has opened their mental-health counseling help lines. A group of Central Florida LGBTQ+ organizations have also started an emergency hotlines with grief counselors at the GLBT Community Center of Central Florida.
- Help Save the Pets. Many pets have also become victims to this tragedy. Whether their owners are still in the hospital or deceased, these fur babies need our help. Every minute counts. Many organizations in Orlando have started working to help care for the pets of the shooting victims or anyone community members need it at this time while supporting friends and families of the victims. The Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando is offering permanent placement and short-term care for any pets affected. You can also check The Pixel Fund for fostering, and the Winter Park Lost Pets. For the complete list, check here. Many need more help with resources.
- Keep Fighting. This is a time to show our support and resilience. Let’s come together to fight for LGBTO+ rights and safety. You can connect with the Human Rights Campaign to hel LGBTO+ equal right worldwide. Show your support and dedication. This was a hate crime. It was a reminder that the LGBTQ+ community still needs protection. When we all come together as one family, we show the power of love. Let’s keep focusing on ensuring human rights for ALL.
We have shown how strong we in numbers. Hate does not and will not thrive when we come together in love. Cities across the world have shown their solidarity and support, and we remind Orlando we’re here. Love is love. And love will overpower all. Keep looking for the Helpers.
Love is Love: When We Come Together
Cities around the world have lit up in support of #Orlando.
Keep the families in your prayers. We’re with you, The City Beautiful. Remember: look for the helpers.