Co-owner of the Back Door, Nicci B, didn’t wake up until noon Sunday, but upon waking they could tell something was wrong by their partner’s breathing.
Nicci assumed it was something to do with other problems the bar had been facing earlier that week, but soon learned of the shooting that killed 49 and injured 53 more at an LGBT bar in Orlando, Florida.
The Back Door played host to a letter-writing event Monday night to send support to anyone who needed it, but especially those in Orlando.
“My thoughts went immediately to the fellow bar owners,” Nicci said. “Just how devastating for this to happen at a community center for marginalized people. To imagine that in a space where you try to foster compassion is terrible.”
The bar was quiet despite full tables of people writing letters and drawing pictures to send off. A table at the front of the room provided paper and several utensils for writing.
Addresses for Pulse, the LGBT Center of Central Florida and Equality Florida were provided along with addresses of Bloomington representatives Todd Young, Dan Coats and Joe Donnely.
“I’m not writing to politicians,” Fernanda Cesnik said. “They won’t do anything, they don’t care, so why would I waste my time?”
Fernanda said she came to the event to be around other people who cared. She attended with her daughter Abigail and friend Julius Lee who both agreed the event made them feel less alone and said it was a good start for the healing process.
“We definitely came here to write letters,” Abigail said. “Not only to show support, but it also allows us to process our thoughts, and say how we feel and let people know they’re loved.”
Fernanda and Lee echoed this sentiment of wanting the people of Orlando to know they are loved from miles away and that they wish they could be there with them.
Melissa Montes and Mateo Perez showed up at the Back Door to stand in solidarity with the victims, especially those of the Latinx community. Latinx refers to the Latino community that is gender inclusive, Perez said.
Perez spent his time at the event drawing a cactus with the pride flag to represent Latino heritage, but also LGBT minorities who were affected by the shooting.
“Most of the victims were just queer people of color, and I want them to feel empowered and not marginalized,” Perez said.
Nicci also said they hope people can understand this tragedy as intersectional and that to do otherwise is a disgrace to the victims.
Additionally, Nicci spoke out about the Islamaphobia coming out and said in their experiences if anyone has oppressed queer people it is white Christians.
Nicci said they thought about what they would want if something similar were to happen at the Back Door. They said tangible things are more helpful than emails or online comments because there is personality attached to a letter or drawing.
“This event is one of catharsis more than anything,” Nicci said. “It’s a time to come talk, spread some hugs, shed some tears, do whatever and tell each other we’re going to get through this.”