On the night of 12 June 2016, Pulse nightclub in Orlando saw the second most lethal mass shooting in US history. 49 people were killed and 53 injured. This was probably the bloodiest massacre against the LGBT+ community in recent history.
Four years later, shock has given way to a series of initiatives and efforts to honor the memory of the victims, celebrate the resilience of the LGBT+ community and prevent further attacks.
Memorial and foundation. The building where Pulse nightclub operated was transformed into a memorial and museum, honoring not only the victims, but their families and the local LGBT+ community. The owners of the house also founded onePULSE Foundation, which has been working to preserve and celebrate the memory of the victims. You can follow and support the work of onePULSE on the foundation's website.
Disarmament. The attack put a question that had been neglected onto the agenda of the American LGBT+ movement: the ease of obtaining firearms in the USA. The group Gays Against Guns was founded after the massacre, campaigning for the end of the "chain of deaths of the arms industry", and fighting for the reformulation of arms policy in the US. Four years later, the group continues to hold protests and demonstrations. Learn more on the collective's website.
Change in the streets. Perhaps the most significant change is on the streets of Orlando. According to statements by survivors of the attack, the city has become more open, tolerant and welcoming to the LGBT+ community. "We are more accepted. More people have come out of the closet. There are more (...) support networks," one resident said in an interview with El País. In addition, phrases like "Love wins" and "Orlando stronger" have come to be seen frequently in public spaces in the city.
The trajectory of the LGBT+ population has never been easy, but rarely have we found ourselves facing such a brutal attack as that which happened four years ago. May the initiatives in response to the massacre multiply and strengthen, to honor the memory of the people we lost that night and to remind the world: we will not let hatred win.
If you want to attend the annual memorial service for the 49 victims, it will be broadcast live on onePULSE's Facebook page today, June 12 at 7 PM EDT. Click here to learn more.
Written by Pedro Ivo Oliveira, volunteer with All Out in Brazil, International Relations student at PUC Minas and researcher of Human Rights, Gender and Sexuality