From mourning to action: Groups try to empower post-Pulse

By Julie Gargotta, Reporter
Last Updated: Wednesday, June 14, 2017, 9:06 AM EDT

After a moving series of events centered around love, some in Orlando’s LGBTQ community want to turn good thoughts into action.

  • Groups calling communities affected by Pulse into action
  • Proyecto Somos Orlando, Equality Florida, pushing for change
  • Honor Them With Action site has 49 days campaign to honor Pulse victims
  • PULSE REMEMBERED: One year later

“It’s time that we all come together, pull our resources together, and really advance our community," said Ricardo Negron. “It cannot end in a concert or celebration. We have to come together and take steps where we can make policy changes and real change.”

On Tuesday, Ricardo Negron’s group, Proyecto Somos Orlando, hosted a panel of community and non-profit leaders to discuss where they hope Orlando goes from Pulse and how the communities of LGBTQ and LatinX, the gender-neutral term for Latinos, can advance.

Ricardo Negron, who escaped from Pulse the night of the attack, said that unity among groups helping the cause is the only way forward.

“We have to commit to taking the next step. We can’t allow this to be another national tragedy," said Hannah Willard, who works for Equality Florida.

Willard believes in action, having fought for LGBTQ workplace and housing protections in Tallahassee this past year.

“Leadership blocked the bill from being heard, even a single time, in the Florida legislature," she explained.

“We are more committed than ever to come back next year," Willard said. "We have to send the message that inaction is not neutral. Our elected officials need to catch up and take action to reinforce what we as Americans already agree on.”

But, she said that simple acts coming from their website, Honor Them With Action, can make a difference. The group started a campaign Monday which runs for the next 49 days, offering suggested actions to take to advance their cause.

“Today we are asking people to write a letter to the editor in their local community, in the local paper. Yesterday we asked folks to attend a Pulse memorial event," she explained. "We’re hoping to raise awareness about specific things people can do to contribute to uprooting hatred and bigotry of all kinds."

That includes talking to friends and family about the campaign, contacting members of Congress and supporting other causes or issues. 

Somos Orlando's panel discussion also delved into encouraging political participation and ensuring that black, Muslim and trans communities, sometimes left out of the discussion, feel included.

“Not just how can we mourn those who were taken from us, but how can we make the world better?” said Willard.