More than a hundred people gathered Monday night at San Jose City Hall for a candlelight vigil to honor victims of the Orlando terrorist attack at Pulse nightclub.
LGBTQ communities across the country were shaken by Sunday’s mass shooting, which left 49 dead and even more wounded.
Rainbow flags billowed in the wind Monday as people lit candles, spoke on a makeshift stage and wrote their thoughts and reflections about the tragedy on a banner.
Among the attendees were elected officials such as Mayor Sam Liccardo, county Supervisor Ken Yeager and council members Chappie Jones, Raul Peralez, Magdalena Carrasco, Tam Nguyen and Johnny Khamis.
The vigil’s invocation was made by Nancy Palmer Jones, senior minister of the First Unitarian Church San Jose.
“I feel absolutely horrible about it, it’s just heartbreaking and devastating,” Jones said. “It affects so many people, not just the LGBTQ community but also the Latino community because it was Latin night at Pulse, and the Muslim community because there’s likely to be backlash and blame which is not deserved.”
Maribel Martinez, manager of the county’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs, hosted the vigil in collaboration with Councilman Ash Kalra.
“We need to keep coming together as a community, because when one of us is hurting we are all hurting and we share in that grief together,” Martinez said.
In addition to the vigil, a march took place through downtown.
Like others, Mayor Liccardo tried to make sense of the tragedy and offered thoughts on how to move forward.
“This is our opportunity to help lift our community and lift Orlando beyond the pain, beyond the horrid violence into a much more promising future,” he said.
Kalra spoke about his hope to have the community come together at a time like this, as well as his gratitude for living in such an accepting community.
Supervisor Yeager, who was the first openly gay elected official in San Jose and Santa Clara County, expressed his shock and dismay over the massacre.
“I know that all of us have been struggling for so many years, and I think of all the progress that we made,” Yeager said. “I think that was a kick in the gut for all of us and, I think, it has made us more determined to fight back—because we have to.”
Rodrigo Garcia, an advocate for the local LGBTQ community, noted that the attack should be viewed in a variety of contexts.
“Conservative politicians call this an act of terrorism against people and avoid saying that those people were LGBTQ brown and black people,” he said.
Below is a photo gallery of Monday’s vigil. All photographs by Greg Ramar.