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There were people who woke to watch the sun rise this morning, and they marveled in it. Some stood on the beach and they captured this event with their camera lens, and they felt renewed and ready to start a brand new day. There were others who existed under the same sun, yet they could not notice it. For them, there is only darkness.

On Sunday, June 12, 2016, in the early hours of the day, 102 people were directly impacted by the hate of a terrorist. 49 of them succumbed to their wounds. A vast number of people were left to mourn; some because they were directly affected and others of us as a community in general. The impact of those bullets went far beyond the walls of Pulse.

We in the LGBTQ community have suffered a horrific loss. Yes, they were humans, yes there was a large number of Latins, yes they were mothers and fathers and sons and daughters and sisters, brothers, lovers and friends; but they were targeted because they were Gay and for that reason, we mourn. For so long, we have been hated, despised and feared for being who we are and simply trying to exist as equals. This hate that people have towards our community is not the result of them being “born that way” but instead it is the result of the hate that is being taught; not just at home, but also in the church, the schools and in some cases, our government officials. Hate breeds hate, but thankfully, love breeds love.

It is normal that at this stage in the process, we are still grieving. Some of us are having a tough time accepting the event that occurred in Orlando; the mass murder that took place at Pulse; the act of terror that took place on American soil. It will most likely take a great deal of time for us to heal. Some of us will have a tougher time than others; and those of us who are stronger will need to be there for those who have been weakened by the senseless act of murder that took place. We have a responsibility to our community. We must be vigilant, we must be observant, we must be there for each other, we must be light, we must be love.

Only love has the power to conquer hate; only light can eradicate darkness.

The darkness that overshadowed our community for a brief time, must not have the final say so. This is our community and we are the guardians of it. We cannot go back into the closet; we must not whitewash out flag and use it to wave in surrender. We shall not be moved.
Fear is the most effective weapon that terrorist have in their arsenal, but we cannot succumb to these fears. If they win, we lose, and not because we didn’t play hard but because we forfeited the game. We cannot be afraid to exist in the open; in the light. We cannot be held hostage in our homes. We cannot be afraid to be affectionate with our partners, out of fear of stirring up the anger in another.

We have always had to fight, and we have become stronger because of that. We cannot retreat now…we WILL NOT retreat now.

We will mourn and we will be angry, but we will not be defined or redefined by this tragedy. We will pour out into the streets of our community and we will celebrate with pride. We will honor our history; our rebellious history. We will continue the fight that started in June 1969 at The Stonewall Inn in New York, and we will honor the memory of the 49. When we stand together, we stand stronger. We will be the light in our communities. We MUST be the light in our communities.