Dayton honors Orlando mass shooting victims

Published: Sunday, June 12, 2016 @ 3:39 PM
Updated: Monday, June 13, 2016 @ 5:40 AM

            Orlando violence stirs painful memories for Miami Valley families affected by mass shootings
Orlando violence stirs painful memories for Miami Valley families affected by mass shootings

Dozens gathered in downtown Dayton Sunday night for a prayer vigil to support all of those affected by an early morning mass shooting.

Club Masque bills itself an LGBT-friendly establishment, much like Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida, that was the scene of the deadliest single shooting in American history with 50 people killed and 53 people wounded.

Overnight into Monday morning, lights on Dayton bridges were changed the colors of the rainbow flag to show support for the LGBT community and the Orlando shooting victims.

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On Sunday night, Club Masque’s electronic sign displayed an image that’s been circulating social media — it’s the Pulse Nightclub logo of a ribbon and rainbow flag that demonstrates gay pride. It was under that show of solidarity that brought together those who are of the local lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and those who are not to honor the victims. Many had tears rolling down their cheeks as they prayed by candlelight.

“We’re a family, no matter what,” said Kacey James of Beavercreek. “It’s terrible that we can’t even to go a safe haven that we have anymore because people can get in there and ruin lives,” James said of the nightclub shooting.

Joining members of the LGBT community and supporters were volunteers from the Dayton chapter of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence to sponsor the vigil.

“There needs to be stricter national background checks,” said Colleen Kesley of the organization, “take the anger and the sorrow and the sadness and contact your representatives.”

In the end, the message at the vigil was one of love and hope.

“We wanted a moment to remember those we’ve lost, the 50 that have been killed in this mass shooting and I couldn’t let this go unmarked,” Kelsey said. “As news comes out and we learn more about this individual, we’ll learn more about his motives but tonight I think we just want to concentrate on mourning those we’ve lost.”

Earlier tonight, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley said she would be in attendance at the vigil and released a statement: “The city of Dayton stands with the people of Orlando and the LGBT community across the nation and world on this really tragic unnecessary act of violence. We recognize that this kind of thing can happen anywhere at any time. So, we have to work to make sure this stops happening and stops becoming a regular occurrence in our country.”

Randy Phillips, president of the Greater Dayton LGBT Center, sent a letter out to supporters, which read: “The Greater Dayton LGBT Center’s thoughts and prayers go out to all the victims in Orlando, their families and friends. This is why we continue to have Dayton PRIDE. Not for the parties and parades, but to show the world that we are here, we are their neighbors and friends, and we will not be intimidated by religious or philosophical extremism — No matter the ideology from which it comes. Many seek to put labels on us all — Gay, straight, transgender, Christian or Muslim — the simple truth is we are all human and that is the only label needed.”

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