We Stand in Solidarity With Orlando
On Sunday evening Pacific Pride Foundation held a candlelight vigil with over 100 members of the community present to honor and commemorate the lives lost in America's most violent mass shooting.
Words from Executive Director, Colette Schabram, for those unable to attend:
"Tonight I want to start by thanking each of you for joining together. Many others experience grief in private settings. They have asked me to let you know, they, too, light a candle right along with us.
What can be said when a life is lost? Words sometimes seem meaningless against such hate and violence. But words have intention, words have weight, and words matter. Just as this gathering tonight in Santa Barbara, miles away from the tragedy in Orlando, matters. Indeed, this is a gathering of solidarity with the victims and families in Orlando. But it is also a gathering of defiance. Simply by meeting together here, we are openly defying intolerance, defying persecution of our LGBTQ friends and families. We are resisting a reaction of fear, instead coming together as a community to loudly proclaim — as one community — that we will not let hate win.
We are here tonight because prejudice and discrimination are not past-tense realities for the LGBTQ community. We are here because lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people experience violence, abuse, discrimination and aggression every single day. We are here because last night, at a gay club in Orlando, someone with hate in their heart committed a terribly violent, most violent, act.
Here in Santa Barbara, and in towns and cities across the United States and across the world, we condemn these acts. We stand together to say:
“You cannot silence us.”
“You cannot use your hate to breed fear or intolerance in us.”
“We stand for love.”
“We stand for wholeness, for community and for peace.”
“We do not confuse your hate with your distortion of religion.”
“We do not confuse your actions as a trigger for us to feel shame.”
“You are the one in the wrong. You are the one acting against love.”
“We say: No bullet is too great to break apart our community and the strength of our voices.”
Tonight, let us hold in our hearts, above all else, love. Love for the victims and the witnesses of this violence. Love for the families and friends of those lost. Love for the people recovering from wounds — the physical, emotional and spiritual wounds this type of tragedy brings about. And love for our country as we move forward in a landscape where gun violence has become a shocking reality.
In holding love as the centerpoint of our response, we can work toward building communities where we resist the idea that this type of violence and intolerance is somehow woven into the fabric of our culture. What we must do next is to continue our work to create an increasingly inclusive community, one that is ever reaching forward toward respect, equality, and love."