Mourning, protest mingle for Orlando Pulse victims at Stonewall vigil.

Grief and Protest Mingle at the Stonewall Vigil for the Pulse Nightclub Massacre

Grief and Protest Mingle at the Stonewall Vigil for the Pulse Nightclub Massacre

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Expanding the LGBTQ Conversation
June 14 2016 3:12 PM

Grief and Protest Mingle at the Stonewall Vigil for the Pulse Nightclub Massacre

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Two mourners at the Orlando massacre vigil held at the Stonewall Inn in New York City on Monday.

Aymann Ismail

I haven’t seen a gathering this large outside the Stonewall Inn, the bar in New York where riots in 1969 launched the modern era of LGBTQ liberation, since the Supreme Court announced the historic win for same-sex marriage last year. The mood, this time, was not one of celebration. In the wake of the largest mass shooting in American history on Sunday in Orlando, Florida, the LGBTQ community was hurting. I, a Muslim ally, could do nothing but stand with those who sought comfort amongst each other on this hallowed ground. Here is what many of them had to say about the tragedy, one that will have a lasting effect on Americans everywhere.

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Aymann Ismail

“I was in Stonewall riots, I was 3 blocks away. I used to go to stonewall when I was younger. We marched in our first gay pride march in 1970. I remember in the ’60s people were being beaten up but not at this large scale. I thought we were past it but it doesn’t surprise me.” Angelo Strada, 66

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Aymann Ismail

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“I didn’t realize that it was a gay club that had been besieged upon. With the hate filled rhetoric that gets bandaged on it’s a surprise that it hasn’t happened sooner. Dare I say religion is the problem? There I said it. Religion is the problem. There was an immediate effort to try and distance religion from the problem, but without religion as its base there wouldn’t be a problem.” David Cohen, 58

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Aymann Ismail

“I’m from Orlando and I’ve been to that club before. My friend’s brother is gay and a DJ. I’ve never had to go through something so traumatic not knowing that someone you knew was harmed in something so horrific. It’s been a rough couple days trying to figure out how to feel about everything. It’s good to be around so many people who are here to support.” Pedro Lopez, 26

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Aymann Ismail

“This is something that I’m surprised hasn’t happened years ago with homophobia and religious conflict and the political situation with the gay lifestyle. It’s just a super young kid who’s not open minded enough, maybe bipolar or something, that just can’t stand homosexuality.” McCall William, 51

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Aymann Ismail

“I’m not affiliated with any of the communities but I’m a human and this is a human problem. I’m here to support all the people who I know are suffering and come together as one big community and stick together. There’s got to be one guy at a rally playing Bob Dylan.” Alex Dillon, 21

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Aymann Ismail

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“With all the horrible rhetoric that today’s candidates are skewering, I’ve been dreading something happening. Someone just explained to me what an AR-15 is. It’s an M-16. And for me I’m almost 70 so to me Vietnam is very current.” Judy Sanford Guisd, 69

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Aymann Ismail

“My best friend is from Orlando. He was supposed to go to Pulse that night with his cousin but he went some other place. His cousin got shot twice, he’s in the hospital right now going through his second surgery. I’m just here trying to support as much as I can. Them doing this to us doesn’t mean that we are going to shut up. We need to speak louder and come together. They want us to be scared.” Bianca Barrera, 22

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Aymann Ismail

“I felt like I was attacked in both areas. I got the Islamaphobic comments, and I got the homophobic comments. I hope that a lot more Muslim Queers are going to stand up at a time like this. This is basically my outing. This is the first time I’ve come out and publicly said it.” Rania Zohny, 24

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Aymann Ismail

“Clubs and bars are supposed to be a safe place for the community to go to.” Silvia, 34 (right)

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“It’s easy to forget with all the progress that we’ve made that’s theres still really terrible things out there affecting our community. We need to make sure people see us and recognize and acknowledge us.” Michelle, 30 (left)

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Aymann Ismail

“This country thought it’s made a lot of progress with marriage equality but there is way more of progress to be made with racial equality, poverty... There’s so many intersectual issues. Blaming this on one particular act of violence related to homophobia or Islamaphobia is not going to cut it.” Sruti, 23

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Aymann Ismail

“I was horrified when I heard it was 20, then I heard it was 50 and I burst into tears. I’m here because sitting home scrolling through Facebook is not an action. I don’t know what this does actually, I’m hoping it will mobilize all of us to hassle our politicians for gun control.” Rabbi Lina Zerbarini, 49

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Aymann Ismail

“At first I was dreading that it was a Muslim shooter. The consequences of that would explode. It’s such a toxic election already.” Shalini Saycocie, 28

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Aymann Ismail

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“It’s been children, it’s been women. People are always vilified about these situations when really we need to come together and solve these issues. It’s important for us to say look, what do we need to start doing because guns are killing all of us. We are all targets at this point.” Larry Fellows, 30

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Aymann Ismail

“I was just coming from a club when I found out. I work in queer nightlife so it was surreal to think that could have easily been me or anyone in my direct community. Someplace that’s supposed to be a safe haven for queer people. It’s surreal because I feel like I could have been one of those 50 people.” Benji Harless, 21

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Aymann Ismail

“People are turning this into an act of god but we are all human beings. People died and it shouldn’t have been that way. Hate caused this. That’s it. There’s no steps to take to fix this. America is going to be America. They are never going to fully accept gay people. The worst shooting in history and people are still saying derogatory things about it like it was supposed to happen or it should have happened.” Rel, 34