Next Tuesday marks one month since the tragic shooting at Orlando LGBTI nightclub Pulse, which saw 49 people lose their lives at the hands of gunman Omar Mateen.
In the wake of the massacre, National Geographic went to the Florida city to meet members of the local community to try to make some sense of the tragedy.
Here, in their own words, local LGBTIs and their friends and families discuss how the incident changed their lives forever – while sharing their hopes for a better future for queer people in Orlando and around the world.
For the full feature, visit the National Geographic website by clicking here.
‘I think it really hit everyone more, ‘cause you know you hear it around the world, but you never think it’s going to be at a place where you lay your head at.’
‘I was at Pulse the night of the shooting. I was on my way home. I was standing at the door when all of a sudden I heard gunshots and all that. And I ran out the door and I didn’t look back. My heart goes out to everybody that has family that was involved or killed inside that shooting.’
‘It’s finally our turn to say something and say something loud now that the spotlight is on us,’ Vazquez says.
‘Everybody needs to be together in these times of need. Not just now but everyday. It can happen to anybody. It can happen anywhere as well. And to know that a specific community was targeted, it’s really heartbreaking and it’s just unreal.’
Xiomara Flores (left), with her partner, Timisha Grandstaff, and their daughters, Kiele Mahina (back right) and Samadhi Grandstaff
‘Having two kids—one’s 12 and one’s six years old—and now they don’t even know if they’ll have both parents coming home one day. They don’t know if we’ll be safe. They got treated differently at school before this even happened. So now this is even more of a wake-up call.’
Terry DeCarlo, the executive director of The GLBT Center of Central Florida, and his partner, William Hoelsman
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