Irish grief after Orlando massacre: “The gay club is a sanctuary for LGBT people all over the world”

Vigil in memory of victims to be held in Dublin tonight

orlando

Jennifer White, centre left, holds on to her partner Lady Binayan during a vigil in Las Vegas | Photo: PA Images

Members of the Irish LGBT community have encouraged the public to bring rainbow flags and emblems to a vigil tonight in memory of the victims of the Orlando massacre.

At least 49 people were killed in the early hours of yesterday morning when Omar Mateen launched an attack on Pulse, a popular gay nightclub, in the worst mass shooting in US history.

The gunman, a 29-year-old US citizen who was known to the FBI, took a number of hostages inside the venue before being shot dead by police.

A silent vigil in solidarity with relatives and friends of the deceased will be held at 6.45pm at Barnardo’s Square in Dublin city centre.

A book of condolence will also remain open until 4pm this afternoon at the nearby Mansion House.

Ireland’s three national LGBT organisations today sent condolences to the loved ones of those who died.

“The gay club, the beating heart of many LGBT+ people’s social lives, is a sanctuary for LGBT people all over the world,” BeLonG To, GLEN and TENI said in a joint statement.

“For generations, many LGBT people fleeing rejection, oppression and abuse have found the gay club or bar to be a refuge where they can feel safe, where they can be themselves without worrying about the repercussion they may experience in the home, in school or in the streets.

“As well as the unspeakably tragic loss of 50 of our family, that very sanctuary came under attack on Sunday morning.

“But we are proud. The LGBT+ community is no stranger to violent attacks and we will, as we have had to do before,  harness the aftermath, the grieving, the anger, into something positive that has made the next generation’s lives better.

“It’s understandable to feel a mixture of emotions after an event as violent as this, but let’s not be afraid.

“Let us remember that LGBT Muslims are equally as terrified of an indiscriminately homophobic killer as anyone else, but are now likely to face increased racism as a result of this attack.

“One of the most powerful acts of solidarity we witnessed in the wake of the attack came from the Council on American-Islamic Relations in the US, an Islamic civil rights group, urging Muslims in the area to donate blood.

“Let’s make this tragedy bring our diverse intersectional communities together, not tear it apart.”

Minister for Children Katherine Zappone, who is originally from the US, told Newstalk Lunchtime that the shooting was a targeted attack on LGBT people.

She said she felt a great grief for the gay community in the US, and wanted to extend her sympathies “as a lesbian minister” to friends and relatives of the victims.

“It’s important those of us across the globe who stand in solidarity with LGBT people raise our voices to say no to this,” she told the programme.

Ms Zappone added: “I’m so upset by the power of the gun lobby in the US. I hang my head in shame that we haven’t been able to change that.”

She was speaking following the launch of the positive mental health awareness campaign “It’s Good to Talk” by the LGBT helpline, a confidential support service.

Anyone feeling distressed about the shooting can contact the helpline on www.lgbt.ie or 1890 929 539.