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

 

These are the names of the 49 people who lost their lives on June 12, 2016. Six months ago.  Kids as young as 18 had their lives taken in Orlando, at Pulse Nightclub.

Six months ago, we heard the news, and watched the body count rise. We heard about cell phones ringing in the pockets of those who passed on, and no one to answer.

That Sunday, I contacted friends at the Gay Alliance of the Genesee Valley, local elected officials and community leaders, and said that we needed to plan a vigil. And then Monday, I walked into work, hugged one of my best friends, and we both looked at each other and said, “This could have been us.” We had both been out for a Friday night happy hour. Friends who attended Trillium Health’s annual fundraiser, The White Party, felt the same way. That Monday evening, 800-900 people attended a vigil outside of the Bachelor Forum. We rallied, and those of us who spoke, spoke about the need for common sense gun control, mental health help, protections for the LGBTQ community from the federal government, education and awareness, being visible, and moving from a place of fear to a place of action and movement. Our Mayor and City Council-members spoke about our city, and our inclusiveness, and reassured their support. The names of the victims were read.

For some reason, it wasn’t us. It was 1,223 miles away. People of color, members of the LGBTQ community, loved ones, people forever missed. Today, parents, families, friends partners, lovers, woke up missing the people they love.

Did you read all the names? Go back and read them if you didn’t or read them again. While local radio show hosts branded this as an attack on an American nightclub, we know it wasn’t just an attack on Americans. This event was an attack on people of color, on the LGBTQ community. My community.

We should never forget. We should never stop being visible. Or for rights and protection under the law. We should never cease our efforts for commonsense gun laws, and easier access to mental health assistance. We should never stop facing racism head-on, and educating the communities around us. Our voices while loud when pushing marriage equality forward, should and need to be louder as we head into a new presidential administration.

And we won’t stop. Why? Because when people unite for a good cause, a cause that affects people in a positive way, and shines light into darkness, they can’t be stopped.

Together, we rise.