By Patrick Baird, Summerville HS (Summerville, South Carolina)

49, the number that thrived. 49, the number that was so innocent. 49, the number that would fall.

Eyes are wide open at television screens everywhere.

Tears run down cheeks, souls break down into extreme levels of both anger and sadness.

People watch in awe as the country learns about gunman Omar Mateen opening fire on a local Gay bar in Orlando Florida leaving 49 dead.

“ That easily could have been us… ” states Captain Meetze of Richland County Police force. She proceeds to talk about her first initial reaction. “Disbelief, in the beginning. A lot of questions I needed to know. It took me back to when we had a club similar.”

Captain Meetze is not alone in this statement. There are many LGBT people across the country with this same thought resting in there head…. What if it was me? That is the initial natural reaction when hearing this news, but the LGBT members are showing they are much stronger than that.

Fear is not something that comes easy to Dr. Laura C. Hein.

She is an associate professor at the School of Nursing in the University of South Carolina. She is also Vice President for external affairs at G.L.M.A (Gay/Lesbian Medical Association:Health Professionals Advancing LGBT Equality) and she is on the advisory board at the Harriet Hancock LGBT Center.

Dr. Hein finds confidence in who she is and refuses to allow this tragedy to change her core identity.

In a sit down interview Dr. Hein explains, “I’m still doing what I need to do, and what I want to do, and I’m being authentic, and their not gonna mess with that.”

Many other LGBT members and supporters elaborate on there first impressions, as well as give words of encouragement to people all across the community.

Harriet Hancock founder of the LGBT sends simple words to members of the LGBT communities everywhere. “Look out for each other, hold each other up, and don’t let fear set in, because that can be debilitating”.

 An LGBT rally attendee explains their first reaction, “Disbelief, because you don’t expect that to happen at all, and the fact that it did is just so tragic. They  were having such fun and then to have someone come in and just start taking there lives for being who they are, they did nothing wrong, but they were sentenced to death.”

The rally member then  goes on to give words of wisdom to the LGBT community everywhere, “There is good in the world, we can’t let one incident that involves death and attacks on the LGBT community to change your outlook on life. Because life is good,and even though there is evil in the world that there is good and we see it every day.”

People across the nation sending messages of hope and most importantly making sure that they focus on one concept. That concept is what the LGBT community thrives on… love.


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