LONG BEACH (CBSLA.com) — The LGBTQ community and their allies held an emotional tribute Sunday as they remembered the 49 fallen who were massacred at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando last year.
CBS 2’s Joy Benedict reported that the tears and emotions flowed freely during the event.
It’s Pride Weekend in Long Beach. Thousands flocked to the 34th annual weekend event to party, meet, play, dance, rejoice and celebrate being gay.
But today, parade goers also stopped to mourn.
The names of the 49 dead were read out loud. Fifty-three people were also wounded that night.
“Your love. your support,” said the Pulse nightclub manager, “from all over the world, has truly meant the world to all of us.”
The crowd heard from survivors of the attack including the club’s manager and club dancer Milan D’Marco.
Benedict asked De’Marco how he is going to keep fighting hate.
“I’m going to fight it with love,” he said, “I’m going to fight it with my voice, and I’m going to fight it with peace.”
That doesn’t mean he is ever going to forget what happened that horrible night.
“I was counting my tips from that night, and then we tarted to hear shots. And we hid in some cabinets inside my dressing room, for about two hours.”
D’Marco says what still haunts him the most that night wasn’t the sound of the gunshots, it was all the phones going off.
“It was just … phones,” he says, “cause everyone was trying to call their loved ones [inside the club] to make sure they were okay.”
The Pulse Nightclub massacre was the deadliest mass shooting in American history. It was the largest incidence of hate against the gay community in our country.
D’Marco says healing is not easy.
“It’s really difficult,” he says, “like really difficult.”
Weekends like Pride Weekend, though, make it easier.
“We’re also here to feel the love,” he says, “to be honest. We’re here to hopefully absorb a lot of the energy of this place because you feel it as soon as you get off the plane.”
Love, support and energy were in abundance this weekend. And while the community knows nothing can bring back the 49 lives that were lost, they’re hoping events like this will make sure it doesn’t happen again.