On 12 June 2016, Omar Mateen entered Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida, killed 49 people by gunshot and injured 53 more. This is widely known as the largest mass shooting in USA history and has been labelled the most appalling LGBT-phobic attacks ever seen.
Dorion Griffiths and Ste Heyward, two of Proud’s officers went to Orlando on 14 June 2016 for a pre-arranged holiday. Whilst on their break they twice attended the memorial site at the Dr Phillips Center for Performing Arts and laid flowers on behalf of PCS Proud. They also attended City Hall in Orlando and wrote in the condolences book which was surrounded by 49 wreaths with the pictures of the victims who were killed.
Dorion, who is Chair of PCS Proud, said “Whilst this was intended to be a holiday, a bit of R&R, it was important to us to go and pay tribute to the victims of such a horrific attack and stand shoulder to shoulder with a community that is in a state of grief. In these times we must remain united. We were truly honoured to be able to take a message of love, support and solidarity from PCS Proud to the memorial site.”
Whilst memorials and funerals began to take place, the Westboro Baptist Church attempted to picket the funerals with the usual “God hates fags” placards. In order to maintain a modicum of dignity, compassion, privacy and respect for those grieving for their loved ones, members of the public dressed as angels and blocked Westboro from spreading their hate at this heart-breaking time.
Whilst this incident may have happened in the United States of America, PCS Proud believes that an injury to one part of the worldwide LGBT community is an injury to all of the community. PCS also has members that work for organisations such as the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and other departments with a worldwide presence.
“Regardless of where this incident took place, any attack on the LGBT community is unacceptable. This incident has been truly horrific and traumatic for many people and we must continue to show our love and support.” Says Ste Heyward, Proud’s Communications Organiser, “The One Orlando fund has been set up to help the victims and their families. I urge everyone to donate what they can. With issues such as travel, medical bills and more, this is an extremely difficult time for them.”
The One Orlando Fund was formally announced by Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, people can make donations to this fund and receive updates by going to http://oneorlando.org.
PCS Proud has formally written to Mayor Dyer to express our condolences, support and solidarity.
It is more important than ever that we recognise and respect each other’s differences, allow each other to be our whole selves and stand together in the face of adversity.
In closing, Dorion says “We must take the saying that equality is at the heart of everything we do and put it in to practice every day. Attacks such as this dreadful one must not be allowed to take place. I encourage everyone to take part in activities to raise awareness of equality issues with politicians and the public alike. Whether this is being a part of community groups fighting for gun control in the USA or becoming involved in the work against prejudice in the UK, we must all continue to fight to make the world a better, safer place.”
If you have any questions about the work of PCS Proud, please email Proud@pcs.org.uk or tweet us on @PCS_Proud.
This post is in memory of:
Stanley Almodovar III, 23 years old
Amanda Alvear, 25 years old
Oscar A Aracena-Montero, 26 years old
Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33 years old
Antonio Davon Brown, 29 years old
Darryl Roman Burt II, 29 years old
Angel L. Candelario-Padro, 28 years old
Juan Chevez-Martinez, 25 years old
Luis Daniel Conde, 39 years old
Cory James Connell, 21 years old
Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25 years old
Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32 years old
Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, 31 years old
Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25 years old
Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26 years old
Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22 years old
Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22 years old
Paul Terrell Henry, 41 years old
Frank Hernandez, 27 years old
Miguel Angel Honorato, 30 years old
Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40 years old
Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19 years old
Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30 years old
Anthony Luis Laureanodisla, 25 years old
Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32 years old
Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21 years old
Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, 49 years old
Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25 years old
Kimberly Morris, 37 years old
Akyra Monet Murray, 18 years old
Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20 years old
Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez, 25 years old
Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36 years old
Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32 years old
Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35 years old
Enrique L. Rios, Jr., 25 years old
Jean C. Nives Rodriguez, 27 years old
Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35 years old
Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz, 24 years old
Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan, 24 years old
Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34 years old
Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33 years old
Martin Benitez Torres, 33 years old
Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, 24 years old
Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37 years old
Luis S. Vielma, 22 years old
Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, 50 years old
Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37 years old
Jerald Arthur Wright, 31 years old
PCS Proud is a part of the Public and Commercial Services Union in the UK which has members carrying out work for the UK Government in one form or another. Proud is the LGBT Network within PCS. The Chair of Proud is Dorion Griffiths (@DorionGriffiths). Proud can be contacted on Proud@pcs.org.uk