Gay Pride should be an event at which to celebrate everything queer, and everything that the LGBTQ community has achieved, particularly over the last year. Instead, L.A. Pride is mourning the victims of a mass shooting in Orlando, Florida following the attack on Floridian gay nightclub PULSE in the early hours of Sunday, June 12. Deemed the worst mass shooting in America's history, much of the world grieves over the 49 deaths and over 50 injuries caused by the now dead gunman in what undoubtedly feels like a homophobia-fueled attack.
Many have been taking to Twitter to mourn the victims of the Orlando shooting, sparking hashtag #PrayForOrlando as well as debates on hate crimes and gun control in America. But Los Angeles is gearing up for its Pride under a totally different premise. Beginning with a moment of silence at the event itself, outpourings of grief and solidarity are also being tweeted left, right, and center from those attending.
The tone to many of these tweets is one that lacks the celebration usually associated with Pride. Instead, the attendees are more contemplative, reflecting over why it's so important to carry on with the Pride event and parade in the face of tragedy. Rather than recoil in fear, L.A. Pride is remaining loud and proud with its queer visibility, expressing the importance of community amongst LGBTQIA+ individuals along the way.
The emphasis on pride is needed now more than ever. Most LGBTQ people go to gay clubs to feel safe. At PULSE nightclub on Sunday morning, however, that safe space was destroyed in the worst way imaginable. As Twitter user Jennifer Verzuh pointed out, why should living in public as a gay person be "a radical or risky act?"
By continuing with Pride in memoriam of the lives lost in the Orlando shooting, the LGBTQ community is taking a stand against all violent acts of homophobia, from the large scale to the most casual of Instagram trolling — all of which arguably contribute to the mindsets that allow such violence to occur.
With extra security set in place for the L.A. Pride event already and an "I will march for you" slogan being attached to this year's event, it seems that this is going to be a much more somber affair than usual. Nonetheless, the show must go on; and in this case, the queer community must continue to speak out and stand up for itself in the face of violent homophobia and marginalization.
As evidenced by these tweets, the pride in being LGBTQ is still alive both in L.A. and all over the world.