Vigil Held at Historic Stonewall Inn
People flooded the streets of New York around 6 pm for a vigil, looking for a place to give them strength and solace in a time of need. Many stood arm in arm, shedding tears and sharing hugs as they held candles high in remembrance of the 49 people who were killed at Pulse nightclub on Sunday morning when 29-year-old gunnamn Omar Mateen opened fire.
The Stonewall Inn is where on June 1969 a clash between gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender patrons and the New York City police paved the way for the gay rights movement. It has since become a place of solace and comfort, not only for LGBTQ people in New York but around the globe as well. It has become a place of celebration, especially last year when the Supreme Court legalized marriage equality for all. It has also been a place of mourning for many of the community, like in October 1998, when 21-year-old gay student Matthew Sheppard was beaten, tortured and left to die in Laramie, Wyoming.
Those in attendance at Monday night’s vigil recalled these past experiences at Stonewall. Farino Michael, 46, was born and raised in New York said this was not the first vigil he has attended there.
“I feel angry and outraged. I was here for Mathew Sheppard and I was here for many others,” said Michael. “I have been here for too many of these vigils. I’m tired of being here actually.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio, wife Chirlane McCray, and Governor Andrew Cuomo attended the vigil along with many other prominent figures who came out to show their support, like singer Nick Jonas and American actor and singer Tituss Burgess.
“This was not just a senseless act – it was a method with a madness,” said Gov. Cuomo. “He attacked the LGBTQ community and that is vile, that is evil. Let us make Stonewall not just a monument here in New York, but an international symbol.”
The crowd cheered in agreement, waving pride flags and holding up homemade flyers and roses with candles. They chanted “We are Orlando” and in Spanish, “Somos Orlando,” to show support for the Latino, Latina, and Latinx victims.
Mayor de Blasio addressed the crowd and told them that they were not alone.
“When thousands of people come together in love, in support, it is a renunciation of hatred,” said de Blasio. “It is a way of overcoming pain. So your very act of solidarity tonight starts to move us forward.”
Cities around the world are continuing to hold support rallies and vigils in remembrance of the victims of what is the worst mass shooting in modern US history. The attack is still under FBI investigation.