Nearly six months ago, the Latinx and LGBTQ communities in Orlando, FL, reeled. A gunman had killed 49 people and wounded more at Pulse, a local club and sanctuary. A fiftieth casualty died from his injuries on September 11, and the grief is still both raw and dense for many.
The city of Orlando installed a new perimeter fence around Pulse earlier this fall, wrapping the shell of the sanctuary in memorial art from local creatives. The building is completely surrounded: affirmations and printed drawings, roughly photocopied pictures and framed portraits. Stickers are peeling and flowers have dried. Candle wax pooled and melted long ago, and the building stands silent.
During our group’s meetings today, Rev. Rodney McKenzie said, “People aren’t symbolically dying. They’re actually dying. And we’re accountable to them. They are us.”
That’s why we, and at least four other parties of people we did not know, gathered at Pulse this afternoon. We read the names of the dead and prayed together. We recommitted to the emergence of a world in which the seeds of mass murder can’t take root, sprout, or bear toxic fruit among us.
Violence turned our sanctuary into a memorial. And six months of community witness, affirmation, prayer, and commitment is carving the sacred back into that place.
Blessings to every family.