‘I feel safe to express myself at Lancaster’: Pulse nightclub vigil held by LGBTQ+ Forum

Staff, students, and ex-students gathered to remember the 49 lives lost in 2016

Lancaster University’s LGBTQ+ Forum held a vigil in memory of the 49 victims of the Pulse Nightclub attack, last Friday.

On  June 12th, 2016, an armed gunman entered Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida, and shot 102 of the 320 patrons in attendance.

49 of these victims were killed. To date, it is the deadliest attack against LBGTQ+ people in US history.

Friday marked the fifth anniversary of the homophobic and transphobic attack, and also marked a day of immeasurable grief, fear, and anger for members of the LBGTQ+ community.

The vigil aimed to facilitate a space for these feelings and to provide a safe space for attendees to share their own experiences and thoughts.

Speakers delivered poems, personal testimonies, and messages of love and solidarity.

Attendees were also invited to light a candle in remembrance of the Pulse victims, and to gather for an informal social at the end of the service.

A representative of the LGBTQ+ Forum, who organised the event, said: “I think the event went really well. I want to say a massive thanks to LA1TV and the chaplaincy for all the help, and thanks to everyone who came and shared their experiences. It was made so special by the people who took part.”

Megan*, a Lancaster University student, said: “This was my first experience with the LGBTQ+ forum, and I felt so welcomed. Being given the space to grieve for an event that was so damaging to people in the community was something I’m really grateful for. I’m so glad that we have the space to pay our respects to the people whose lives were lost, and a space to heal and meet people who can relate to the collective sense of grief we feel.”

Jamie, a first-year from Pendle, spoke at the event and later discussed his opinion on Lancaster as a space for LGBTQ+ people. He said: “I feel safe to express myself at Lancaster. It has allowed me to be who I want to be without feeling the shame and judgement of other people.”

*Name changed for anonymity

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