In Their Words, LGBTQ People Answer "What Next?" in Wake of Orlando Club Massacre

Source: Mic
Source: Mic

On Monday, underneath a clouded sky and surrounded by armed law enforcement, a crowd swelled outside Manhattan's historic Stonewall Inn to mourn the loss of 49 lives in Orlando, Florida, over the weekend at the hands of a gunman who espoused homophobic beliefs.  

Demonstrators carried signs with messages like "NRA = death" and "we stand with Orlando"; others waved the rainbow flag, a symbol of the struggles and triumphs LGBTQ people have seen over the decades. The bar itself was the site of explosive protests in the 1960s aimed at ending police violence against the city's LGBTQ people and served as a poignant backdrop for processing violence yet again. 

The gathering came a day after Omar Mateen, a United States citizen born to immigrant parents, opened fire on partygoers at Pulse, a popular gay nightclub in Orlando, ending in 49 deaths and dozens of injuries. The massacre quickly became the bloodiest mass shooting in the country's modern history, surpassing, in terms of numbers, the 27 people (not including the gunman) slaughtered in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012 and the 14 people (not including both perpetrators) killed in San Bernardino, California, in December. 

In the wake of Sunday morning's massacre, many LGBTQ individuals have wrestled with making sense of the tales of carnage they saw flooding their news and social media feeds. They've asked why, they've wondered how and they've looked for reasons to explain the attack, often finding only more hurt and confusion. 

In some ways, the tragedy has felt hijacked by politicians and pundits who have used the shooting to promote Islamophobia or take swipes at their opponents. Amid the rhetoric, here are LGBTQ people and their supporters answering the simple question: "What's next?" 

Tony Billups, 37, and Michael Brady, 32; dating for three years

June 13, 2016, outside Stonewall Inn in Manhattan
Source: 
Philip Ross/Mic

Angelo "Stixx" Mathews, 25

June 13, 2016, outside Stonewall Inn in Manhattan
Source: 
Philip Ross/Mic

Kris Casey, 42

June 13, 2016, outside Stonewall Inn in Manhattan
Source: 
Philip Ross/Mic

Stephen Skerianz, 29

June 13, 2016, outside Stonewall Inn in Manhattan
Source: 
Philip Ross/Mic

David Hernandez, 30

June 13, 2016, outside Stonewall Inn in Manhattan
Source: 
Philip Ross/Mic

Therese Sterling-Little, 32, and Sara Lynn Sterling-Little, 32; married three years

June 13, 2016, outside Stonewall Inn in Manhattan
Source: 
Philip Ross/Mic

Crystal Lovelady, 27

June 13, 2016, outside Stonewall Inn in Manhattan
Source: 
Philip Ross/Mic

Andil Gosine

June 13, 2016, outside Stonewall Inn in Manhattan
Source: 
Philip Ross/Mic

Nodeth Vang, 42

June 13, 2016, outside Stonewall Inn in Manhattan
Source: 
Philip Ross/Mic

Read more: 
• These Are the Heroes of the Orlando Mass Shooting — And You Need to Know Their Names
• Gay Choruses Sing for Healing and Strength Following Orlando Nightclub Shooting
• 7 Politicians Whose "Thoughts and Prayers" for Orlando Gloss Over Their Anti-LGBTQ Views

How likely are you to make Mic your go-to news source?

Philip Ross

Philip Ross is the Editorial Director for Search at 'Mic.' He previously reported for the International Business Times.

MORE FROM

Hillary Clinton says Republicans will be the "death party" if they pass health care bill

Hillary Clinton spoke out against the Republican's proposed bill on Twitter.

It's time to redefine the clitoris, according to sex education experts

"Words matter. They shape and mold our ideas and beliefs about our purpose, our bodies, our self-worth and our place in the world around us."

Al-Jazeera becomes a target amid Qatar diplomatic crisis

Gulf states are demanding the broadcaster be shut down.

5 blocks of London apartments to be evacuated over potentially flammable cladding

800 North London apartments will be evacuated following a fire inspection that turned up evidence that the buildings could be unsafe.

Tomi Lahren wants to rally women to her side after criticizing feminists and "pro-choicers"

"My view on abortion is not black-and-white," Lahren said.

These 5 states are drafting laws to limit protests on college campuses

The legislation is intended to protect free speech on campus.

Hillary Clinton says Republicans will be the "death party" if they pass health care bill

Hillary Clinton spoke out against the Republican's proposed bill on Twitter.

It's time to redefine the clitoris, according to sex education experts

"Words matter. They shape and mold our ideas and beliefs about our purpose, our bodies, our self-worth and our place in the world around us."

Al-Jazeera becomes a target amid Qatar diplomatic crisis

Gulf states are demanding the broadcaster be shut down.

5 blocks of London apartments to be evacuated over potentially flammable cladding

800 North London apartments will be evacuated following a fire inspection that turned up evidence that the buildings could be unsafe.

Tomi Lahren wants to rally women to her side after criticizing feminists and "pro-choicers"

"My view on abortion is not black-and-white," Lahren said.

These 5 states are drafting laws to limit protests on college campuses

The legislation is intended to protect free speech on campus.