Sunday, June 18, 2017

Photo Essay: Pulse Nightclub one year memorial anniversary

I had the good fortune to travel with my sister Melissa Barthelemy to Orlando this last week. She was conducting oral histories and helping with continued support to individuals who are working hard in Orlando on archiving memorial items and with individuals in local government that are very active in providing resources for marginalized communities. Some very positive things are coming from the tragedy - which, in the wave of intensity surrounding the memorial site and the interactions there were quite moving and encouraging... I realized just how well respected as an academic  - and as someone invested in the greater welfare of affected communities - my sister really is. This became clear when I saw just how appreciative and engaging and welcoming many of these individuals were when we met with them in Orlando...

Images are all captured in Orlando, Florida, for the one-year memorial anniversary of the Pulse NIghtclub shooting on June 12, 2016.  Pulse was a gay nightclub where 49 persons were killed and 68 injured by a gunman. The FBI labeled the massacre as an act of domestic terrorism aimed at the entire nation. But, in speaking with the families of the victims, the survivors, and even top city administrators it is clear that most in Orlando see it as a hate crime, a bias-motivated attack aimed at the LGBTQ+ community. This tragic event has helped spark greater awareness of LGBTQ+ issues in Orlando, with some conservative churches and businesses actively working to support the community, altering their earlier homophobic stances. As a result of this attack, many have been spurred to increasing levels of activism. A number of non-profit organizations have been created to help support the LGBTQ+ and communities of color in the Orlando area. Efforts are ongoing now in the creation of curriculum design in the Gay Straight Alliance chapters in local schools. Advocating for politicians who promote gun violence prevention and champion LGBTQ+ rights is now common.

All images ©Bennett Barthelemy June 2017