Manchester welcomes Orlando shooting visitors
Do you remember 12 June 2016 and the horror of what happened at The Pulse nightclub in Orlando?
Well a 29-year-old security guard, killed 49 people and wounded 58 others in a terrorist attack/hate crime inside Pulse, a nightclub in Orlando, Florida, United States. He was shot and killed by Orlando Police Department (OPD) officers after a three-hour standoff. Pulse was hosting a "Latin Night" and thus most of the victims were Latinos. It was both the deadliest mass shooting by a single shooter and the deadliest incident of violence against LGBT people in United States history. It was also the deadliest terrorist attack in the United States since the September 11 attacks in 2001.
As often happens following such an incident, people came together to support and pay forward, not just in Orlando, but the 'Stars of Hope' organisation in Kansas, other cities in the US and of course Manchester.
A wave of best wishes and offers of condolence and support were sent from amoungst others our very own Lesbian and Gay Chorus (who have since linked strongly with the Orlando equivelant) aswell as inviduals from our region via social media.
As a result, this week we welcomed a small group to Manchester, including the club Manager on the night Josh Garcia together with key members of the Stars of Hope organisation itself.Josh was joined by Matthew Lane Deighton, Marcelle Robustelli and Suzanne Bernier.
Many village venues opened their doors and welcomed the group to display Stars and to share details of our own attack at Manchester Arena.
Additionally, they were invited to meet the Lord Mayor at the Town Hall, the Dean at Manchester Cathedral and key individuals at Manchester Art Gallery who helped with the allocation of the thousands of floral tributes from St Ann's Sq and other locations.
Bars, Restaurants and Hotels across the city centre also welcomed the visitors to meet them and display Stars in the venues. As did GMP and NWAS at their offices and thanks to the 3 Rivers distillery for their hospitality.
Organiser Dr Liz Royle said..
"We took 200 stars to Manchester's Gay Village. An expression of unity from Pulse nightclub survivors to Manchester. Thanks to GAY bar for starting us off with fizz and chocs in their VIP area and to the fabulous Belinda Scandals for leading the way and for guiding us around the other dozen or so venues across the village and beyond"
Former Pulse Operations Manager Josh Garcia also commented..
"What an honor and a privilege to speak with the Lord Mayor in his parlor. Love filled the room as we shared experiences and the importance of solidarity.It was also heart-warming to meet so many other individuals,organisations and groups during our short visit to this incredible city"
Biggest thanks must go to the many from the LGBT community and friends who came together to make these people feel so welcome and optomistic about the power of 'Paying it Forward'..
Thanks too, to Kirsten Trenell and Smyth Harper for their tireless support during the trip.
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