With the rainbow-coloured Sky Tower as a backdrop almost 700 people including Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse gathered for a candlelight vigil in Auckland's Western Park this evening in a show of solidarity with the victims of the Orlando gay club massacre. Exactly 24 hours earlier a gunman, Omar Mir Siddique Mateen, stormed into gay nightclub Pulse and set about killing fifty patrons and injuring 53 more. Speakers at the candlelight vigil expressed frustration, sadness and a determination that glbti people will not be bowed by violence. "We should not be here, said Alan Granville to an audience that included members of glbti organisations but was mostly ordinary glbti folk and a few straight supporters. "It's inconceivable, it's just awful... terrible," he said acknowledging feelings of "shock, disgust, anger and fear." "Events like this show that glbti people around the world have a long way to go, we must not cower, we must stand strong and proud... if we do that we win and they do not win." His words were echoed by subsequent speakers who stepped up from the crowd: "We must not let them tear us apart." "I'm devastated, my heart bleeds for the people and their families in Orlando." "Our hearts and prayers go out to all who are affected, we must support one another wherever we are." Gay commentator Michael Stevens pointed out that the atrocity was committed by "one man on a mad killing spree." He said the violent ends meted out to the victims echoed the violence still being done to glbti people everywhere, including the bullying of young glbti people" Penny Hulse said she had come to show solidarity with her city's glbti communities. "This could have been any of you," she said. Lesbian Muslim Rana gave the crowd pause for thought A young Muslim woman, Rana, spoke of the shooting being "a moment of grief for humanity." "All people desire to live, she said. "Well, we are here we will continue to live our lives with love and we will be who we are." Of people who attack and demean glbti people she said "They want to make us hide but that is not going to happen. Anne Speir noted that "homophobia is a thing that transcends all religions... we have to reach out to the world and show them that hate won't work." Miss Ribena urged everyone to be "proud of who you are" and in a small quiet and moving voice Chelsi Magee, standing beside a table of lit candles, sang There is a Candle. Cindy of Samoa adds a dash of energy to the vigil Cindy of Samoa spoke of her hope that there will not be a backlash against glbti Muslim people and led the crowd in an up-beat rendition of This Little Light Of Mine. People in the crowd told GayNZ.com Daily News they were there "to be solid in our resilience," and "to be very clear to all the religious, political and social leaders who have been slow to support our community that we're not going anywhere." A young woman she was attending due to her feelings of "empathy, and sadness.. a heavy sadness." Her partner said "every life should be respected, that this has happened is disgusting." The fairly informal formalities ended with Paul Heard urging everyone to hug the people near them with love. "They won't mind." He called out through his megaphone into the night sky: "Love to Orlando!"
Credit: GayNZ.com Daily News staff
First published: Monday, 13th June 2016 - 8:17pm
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