Indiana Daily Student

LGBT community gathers to mourn and respond at Indianapolis vigil for Orlando

Mother Suzanne Wille said when she delivered her sermon Sunday morning at the Episcopal Church of All Saints, she had not heard the news about Orlando.

She addressed a crowd of LGBT community members and their allies Sunday evening at the Vigil for Orlando in the Egyptian Room of the Old National Centre in Indianapolis. Those not among the hundreds seated were part of a standing room only crowd in the back of the room.

Indy Pride, Inc. organized the vigil after celebratory events of Circle City IN Pride ended Saturday night.

When she returned home to hear the news from her wife of a mass shooting at gay club Pulse in Orlando early that morning, which would later be called the largest single shooting in United States history, she said her heart broke.

“Friends we are angry today,” she said. “But we cannot, we will not, give up on love. And already I can see it.”

She said she saw love in the LGBT community’s response in Orlando to what happened.

She said she saw love in the Islamic Center of Orlando’s instruction to Muslims to give blood even though it breaks the sacred fast of Ramadan.

She said she saw love present in the room at the vigil that night.

Various religious leaders of Indianapolis spoke at the vigil, preaching love to combat the hatred the community might feel.

Executive Director of the Muslim Alliance of Indiana Rima Khan Shahid said the alliance was shocked and horrified to hear about the mass shooting in Orlando.

She said the alliance condemns the attack as a barbarous act of hatred 
contrary to the beliefs of Islam.

“Islam is a religion of peace, 
tolerance and justice,” she said. “Now more than ever we as a nation need to stand united to speak out against and combat all hate crimes and terrorism.”

Shahid’s speech was met with a standing ovation.

Rev. Darren Chittick of the Church Within in Fountain Square said the space was immediately offered in wake of the events and the Indianapolis Men’s Chorus readily gathered for their performance of “Make Them Hear You” for the vigil.

“It is only love that could gather us here in these numbers on such short notice,” Chittick said. “So that we could be reminded what wholeness feels like together as community, queer and ally alike ... I’m proud to be a part of us.”

Indianapolis resident Jenna James, 26, said she was devastated to hear about the shooting in Orlando.

“It’s just really hard to know that many people from the community are gone when they were just out celebrating and living their lives,” James said.

After celebrating at pride events in Indianapolis this weekend, Eric Hessel, 29, said the shooting in Orlando was close to home. He said it had shaken the community.

However, Hessel said the hurt they feel is not unusual. Gun violence has started hitting many different communities in the U.S., he said.

“It was a black church in South Carolina, it’s a white school in Connecticut, it’s a gay club in Orlando — it’s everybody,” Hessel said. “And as awful as it is that it was our community, we’re all humans, it’s hurting us all... At some point they’re going to have to figure out how to get this all in check.”

Indy Pride, Inc. President Jason Hinson-Nolen said the attack in Orlando was a solemn reminder of how the journey in the LGBT community continues.

However, he said he hoped the community felt empowered to feel courage to love and express whom they are.

“Being who we are can be dangerous,” Hinson-Nolen said. “But my pulse does not quicken with fear.”

As the vigil ended, the crowd exited under the marquee of Old National Centre, a few hugging before parting ways. One of the crowd left draped in a pride flag.

“I just hope that this sparks conversation for love and to make people understand that fear and hate are not a way to bring people closer together,” James said. “Even though it’s a terrible event, I hope it brings about something good.”

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