Hundreds of people took to the streets of Brighton and Hove last night (June 13) to remember the 49 people murdered and 53 people injured in Pulse Nightclub, Orlando, Florida in the biggest deadly mass killing in USA history.
The first part of the Vigil outside the Marlborough was organised by Traumfrau outside the Marlborough Pub in Princes Street. People lit candles in the Marlborough and then walked up St James Street to join civic leaders by the Aids Memorial in New Steine Gardens where the crowds swelled to many hundreds.
Television broadcaster Simon Fanshawe one of the co-founders of Stonewall the LGBT equality charity opened the Vigil and set the scene with a thoughtful speech explaining why we were all there and asking people not to judge people or blame a religion by the actions of a few.
The Mayor of Brighton, Cllr Pete West, The Labour leader of the City Council, Cllr Warren Morgan and the Convenor of the Greens, Cllr Phelim Mac Cafferty all made powerful speeches about the importance of standing together in the case of adversity.
Gerry McCrudden from Actually Gay Men’s Chorus read an Irish poem for the families of those who had lost their lives and other speakers included the Mayor’s minister, the Rev Anthea Ballam an interfaith minister representing all faiths and non, Finola Brophy chair of the Rainbow Chorus and a trans speaker who reminded everyone that the nightclub in Orlando was attacked on a party night for trans people, latinos and gay muslims.
Rainbow Chorus sang Where you there (when hate kicked love to the ground), Homophobia, We shall overcome sung with a passion rarely heard and Something inside so strong, assisted by singers from Brighton Gay Men’s Chorus and Actually Gay Men’s Chorus.
Finally a speaker from each choir, Silvio Grasso, Ruth Hughes and Alan Baser read out the names and ages of the dead before James Ledward urged everyone to always report Hate Crime to the police, no matter how small the incident and called for a minutes noise to mark the lives of “our dead brothers and sisters in Orlando”.
Chief Superintendent Nev Kemp, Sussex Police Commander for Brighton and Hove, Sussex Police LBGT Champion and Proud Ally, was not able to attend the Vigil due to prior commitments but issued the following statement, saying: “The tragic events in Orlando should concern all of us. A crime as heinous and cruel as the homophobic attack committed in the Pulse Nightclub this weekend is distressing to anyone with any compassion for the welfare and lives of the innocent people affected by this mass murder.
Photos by Chris Jepson and Alice Blezard.
Video by Daniel Johnson.