Solidarity in grief and love: Ashevilleans stand in vigil for the victims of mass shooting at Pulse Bar in Orlando

A young Latina, perched on sturdy shoulders, waved her rainbow flag amid a massive show of support sent from Asheville to Orlando with love. Photo by Able Allen
A young Latina, perched on sturdy shoulders, waved her rainbow flag amid a massive show of support sent from Asheville to Orlando with love. Photo by Able Allen

To honor the victims of the deadliest mass shooting carried out by an individual in our nation’s history, Asheville people gathered for words of encouragement, an urging toward actions of love, a friendly embrace and a moment of silence. On Monday evening, streams of people filed in on foot, on bikes, and in cars to stand in a mass of hundreds in front of O’Henry’s, a gay bar on Haywood Street. They stood packed tightly together in a semicircle around the front of the establishment, where speakers shared thoughts on how to move forward and how to honor the dead.

In part because many of the victims of the Pulse shooting in Orlando, Florida were Hispanic and/or Latino, the event made a point of being bilingual, and all the speakers were fully translated into Spanish. The speakers, whether faith leaders, entertainers or activists, had broad and various messages with the uniting theme of love. Though it was a somber affair, it was above all human, and there were cheers and laughter along with the tears and heart-wrenching sadness.

Michael-David, president of the Blue Ridge Pride Center, for instance, emphasized the importance of voting for candidates who support the LGBT community. Meanwhile, Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, the presumptive Buncombe County commissioner-elect of District 1 and executive director of the Campaign for Southern Equality,  encouraged everyone to donate to and spread the word about a special victims’ family relief fund. The fundraising has already been astonishingly successful, raising nearly $4 million in the first two days. She also offered her thoughts on personal loss and helping one another through it. She said that everyone who has faced personal tragedy and loss of a loved one can commiserate. And this is the time to be there for one another, she said.

“One of the greatest ways we can resist the violence that sometimes feels like it is sweeping through our world is to stand up and say, ‘I know and I see you, and in the depths of my grief, I know what got me through somehow. And I’m going to offer that hand to you, I am going to offer that word to you. You will never be alone as long as I’m here with you.'”

After a moment of silence and a poignant reading of the names of those killed in the shooting conjured many a tear, Brian Ammons, director of spiritual life at Warren Wilson College gave a parting meditation: “So the time has come for us to leave this place. And as we do, we’ll go knowing that I believe this and I hope that’s enough. You are all the loving children of God. Nobody can take that from you, no matter what. So go out into the world and fill it with your radical love.”

 

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About Able Allen
Able studied political science and history at Warren Wilson College. He enjoys travel, dance, games, theater, blacksmithing and the great outdoors. Follow me @AbleLAllen

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21 thoughts on “Solidarity in grief and love: Ashevilleans stand in vigil for the victims of mass shooting at Pulse Bar in Orlando

    • Huhsure

      Another site, another instance of Tim Peck stoking anti-Muslim sentiment.

    • Peter Robbins

      Wait for it, Mr. Peck. I’m sure some incompetent will come along and start spewing hate. Any second now.

    • Tim Peck

      How clever. Instead of commenting on the substance of the argument, progressives focus on personalities and inessentials. That’s never happened before.

      • Peter Robbins

        You didn’t make an argument. You criticized good people for not uttering the bile that you, in your strange state of grieving, wanted to hear.

        • Tim Peck

          And yet you have nothing to counter the argument. You are covering for homophobic hate. How does that feel in your world?

          • Huhsure

            You’re trying to deflect from your very own homophobia, which was on display in these forums just recently. Why such hate?

          • Peter Robbins

            I see no competent evidence that anyone at the gathering was “covering for homophobic hate,” and considerable evidence that the speakers at the gathering were opposed to it. The gathering, not me, is what the story is about. Did you even attend?

          • Tim Peck

            This is the definition of “lost”:

            Me: “You are covering for homophobic hate.”
            You: “I see no competent evidence that anyone at the gathering was covering for homophobic hate.”

            Wow.

            When you say “competent evidence” do you mean legally admissible evidence? Why the obtuse terminology?

          • Peter Robbins

            I’ll take that as a “no, I did not attend.”

        • bsummers

          Didn’t you get the memo? When Mr. Peck changes the subject, you’re obligated to dance to his tune.

          • Peter Robbins

            I got the tune. It’s the lyrics that didn’t make sense. Something about a guy named Louie?

      • Huhsure

        I’m just curious why you’re so intent on demonizing Muslims while at the same time trying to appear like you’re not a bigot against the LGBT community. You were demonizing transgendered people just within the past few weeks, right here in these very forums, using vile epithets that got your posts deleted by the moderators.

        Is it just that you hate Muslims more than you hate the transgendered?

    • Able Allen

      Alright, it’s time for somebody to be the bigger person here and stop this personal back and forth. Thank you

  1. bsummers

    The shooter was born and raised in the USA. Are we sure he got his violent homophobia from the Koran?

    Two weeks before Orlando, here’s what happened in the US House of Representatives:
    Homosexuals ‘Worthy of Death’ Bible Verse Read Before Key Vote
    http://www.rollcall.com/news/politics/bible-verse-homosexuals-heard-house-gop-prior-vote

    And then afterwards…
    Arizona Christian pastor doesn’t think the massacre in an Orlando LGBT nightclub was so bad
    http://deadstate.org/arizona-christian-pastor-doesnt-think-the-massacre-in-an-orlando-lgbt-nightclub-was-so-bad/

    Psychopaths are psychopaths. Some of them just choose to wrap themselves in the Bible, or the Koran, or whatever is handy, in order to feel that their acts or words or impulses are justified.

    Secondary psychopaths try to use a tragedy to advance their own political interests. Yuck.

  2. bsummers

    This happened two days ago, three hours east of here:

    “The gays had it coming!” a man shouted and gazed back at the guy who’d called Hillary a bitch. They met eyes, shared a smile, a look of recognition.
    American Horror Story
    A Donald Trump rally is a homophobic, misogynistic, racist nightmare.

    https://newrepublic.com/article/134329/american-horror-story

    This is the country that the Orlando shooter grew up in. Meanwhile…

    It’s An Honor To Continue Being Valued Over Countless Human Lives
    by an AR-15
    http://www.theonion.com/blogpost/its-honor-continue-being-valued-over-countless-hum-53094

  3. bsummers

    This happened three days ago, three hours east of here:

    “The gays had it coming!” a man shouted and gazed back at the guy who’d called Hillary a b****. They met eyes, shared a smile, a look of recognition.
    American Horror Story
    A Donald Trump rally is a homophobic, misogynistic, racist nightmare.
    https://newrepublic.com/article/134329/american-horror-story

    This is the country that the Orlando shooter grew up in. Meanwhile…

    It’s An Honor To Continue Being Valued Over Countless Human Lives
    by an AR-15
    http://www.theonion.com/blogpost/its-honor-continue-being-valued-over-countless-hum-53094

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