“Tonight shows in the wake of this tragedy that knights are charging on, that we’re an open and inclusive community, even though we’ve been
devastated,” said Carlos Guillermo Smith, the Government Affairs Manager for the LGBTQ-rights group Equality Florida.
Jaime Caldaro, a member of the LGBTQ community and a two-year student at UCF, felt the same. “Tonight’s been a night f0or me to let all my feelings out and to be with people who feel the same way," Caldaro said. "For people like me, who felt personally attacked by this, it’s helped me let go of some of the pain and angst I’ve felt."
She said friends that attended Pulse before the shooting remember seeing the shooter, Omar Marteen, at the club the Wednesday before the shooting.
Ultimately, many of the LGBTQ members viewed the vigil as an opportunity to come together and spread a message of love, rather than hate.
"This is going to make us stronger," Caldaro said. "People have lit candles from New York to Hong Kong, and the LGBTQ community has never had that kind of support before.
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