NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – It’s been three years since a tragic mass shooting at an Orlando night club.
On June 12, 2016, 49 innocent people were gunned down inside Pulse Nightclub.
It was a senseless act made all too real by the recent shooting in Virginia Beach.
On Wednesday, people gathered in Norfolk to remember what happened in Orlando.
They also remembered the victims of the Virginia Beach tragedy.
It was an emotional evening as strangers came together, united with pride, but also sadness.
One by one, the names of the 49 people killed at Pulse nightclub were read out loud. Their pictures lined the sidewalk with flowers and luminaries around them. Although the people at the vigil didn’t know the victims, the pain is still fresh.
“We as a queer community, we are a family but we’re not related by blood. We’re related by something that’s different, something that’s beautiful,” said Connor Norton.
“Even though we’re not from Orlando, we just felt like it happened at home,” said Amy St. George.
Norton helped coordinate Wednesday’s memorial for the Orlando victims.
He said the
event calls attention to promoting a more welcoming world for everyone.
“It’s very often not talked about as what it was, which was a hate crime against queer people,” he said.
“If we forget, then nothing is ever going to change and it’s just going to keep happening,” St. George said.
St. George said the tragedy in Virginia Beach made the vigil even more personal.
“We were in the midst of, the homestretch of planning this event when the shooting happened,” she said. “The last thing we were thinking was what if another shooting happens.”
The names of the 12 victims from Virginia Beach were also read out loud.
Norton and St. George said they’ll keep rallying for change and for an end to gun violence for as long as it takes.
“The fact that pride was born out of wanting to exist without being oppressed and without being targeted and the people in the pulse shooting were targeted. The people in the Virginia Beach municipal center were targeted. Honor them by demanding a better world for all of us,” St. George said.
Organizers plan to host a Pulse remembrance event each year and by doing so, they say they hope the Hampton Roads community will create a safe space for everyone.