Early Sunday morning at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, an unthinkable tragedy claimed nearly fifty innocent lives and wounded an additional fifty. The gunman pledged an allegiance to ISIS, and has rumored to have been gay himself- which explains his targeting of members of the LGBTQ+ community. On Wednesday a memorial was held to remember the victims of the massacre, and to join together in peace and love to support those who have been influenced and impacted by the event. Forty-nine rose petals were given to individuals to place in the Zen garden in remembrance of those who lost their lives.
Lori Cimino, the advisor for the Gay-Straight Alliance group who hosted the event said a few words in memorial and passed out rose petals along with chalk, to write messages of support and love for those affected.
“What I feel they [members of the LGBTQ+ community] needed to hear from us as an institution is that they are safe, they are valued, and they are supported. I think they needed the tragedy that was targeted at them to be recognized. Regardless of what the targeted group may have been, I think that any group who is targeted will experience feelings that need to be recognized.” said Cimino when asked about the impact she felt it made on FSCJ students.
It was a somber occasion, but an overwhelming sense of peace, unity, and love enveloped everyone who attended. As I placed my rose petal down in the garden, I felt a sense of loss in our community. Not only in our community of Florida, but in the LGBTQ+ community as a whole. We lost fifty beautiful lives, and our peace of mind. “As a white female who grew up in Miami, I’ve always felt like I was a pretty tough chick, I have never felt fear because of who I am until the other day.” Cimino told me, and this seems to be a common theme amongst other individuals after being so blatantly attacked for who they are.
Even our very own president of FSCJ, Dr. Cynthia Bioteau attended the memorial to show her support and respect for those impacted. “I feel it is very saddening what happened in Orlando. But I feel it is very heartwarming to have students and administrators gathering here in peace as human beings. The student’s participation in creating this is more impactful than anything the faculty could have organized.”
Students and faculty gathered together at South Campus for a moment of silence and acknowledgement as the 49 names of the deceased were read. Those who attended were asked to take rose petals to spread in the zen garden. Strong messages filled with love and hope were scrawled along the walls and grounds. People who had never met, both students, professors and FCSJ staff shared tears, laughs, hugs and handshakes and came together at one time to stand strong both Orlando as well as for our LGBT students and faculty of FSCJ.