Gays Against Guns will hold a silent vigil outside the Stonewall Inn on June 12 at 7 p.m. to remember the 49 people who were murdered during the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando three years ago to the day.
The horrific turn of events at the LGBTQ nightclub shocked the queer community and an entire nation that woke up on a Sunday morning in 2016 to find out that dozens of people who were out enjoying a Latinx night at the establishment were killed and 53 injured in a mass shooting carried out shortly after 2 a.m. The shooter, Omar Mateen, committed suicide as police moved in on the crime scene.
New York’s queer community mobilized immediately in reaction to the shooting, hosting a pair of major vigils later that same day in 2016. Thousands of people flocked to the Stonewall Inn for one of those events, while interfaith leaders gathered on the steps of Judson Memorial Church near Washington Square Park in another vigil that highlighted the importance of standing together against efforts to divide communities based on faith.
Out gay NYPD Detective Brian Downey, president of the Gay Officers Action League, led the police department’s effort that day in closing down Christopher Street to allow the permit-less vigil outside the Stonewall.
The following evening, June 13, what was billed as a vigil for the Pulse victims, again outside the Stonewall, which included numerous elected officials, quickly became a rally in support of gun control legislation.
The Pulse massacre notably lit the spark that led to the formation of Gays Against Guns, a direct action advocacy group that grew quickly amid increased attention on the intersection of LGBTQ issues and gun control. Gay Against Guns, with their haunting Human Beings contingent that march anonymously draped in white veils and holding placards honoring gun violence victims, made their first public showing in the LGBTQ Pride March just two weeks later, on June 26.
The group’s planned vigil on the third anniversary is one of a number of commemorations taking place, near and far, throughout the day. The Latino Commission on AIDS, City Councilmember Daniel Dromm, and other LGBTQ advocates gathered on the steps of City Hall in the morning to remember the victims, while Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer attended a somber ceremony at a Florida cemetery where victims are buried.
Florida’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, meanwhile, drew criticism on June 11 when he failed to mention the LGBTQ community when he released a proclamation ordering flags statewide to be flown at half-staff to mark the anniversary of the massacre.
The planned vigil at the Stonewall Inn is posted as an event on Facebook, where Gays Against Guns wrote, “We remember them, we call people to action to end what is the gun violence epidemic in the United States. We’re in front of the Stonewall Inn, memorializing the lives taken, saying their names. This is an invitation — come, join us and fight this fight. Gun violence is an epidemic in the United States and we can end it.”