RPD LGBTQ Liaison shares hopes and concerns at MCC of Richmond vigil for Orlando victims
Richmond Police Cap. Angela Green spoke before The Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) of Richmond vigil for victims of the Orlando shooting Wednesday evening. The event aimed to remember those lost in the worst mass-shooting in US history. The shooting ended in 50 killed, including the shooter, and 53 wounded in a brutal and horrendous terrorist attack aimed at LGBT individuals.
Greene, who serves as liaison for the LGBT community, did not initially plan to speak at the vigil, but after watching the vigil, she decided to share her words and thoughts.
“I figure this is not the time to be silent,” said Greene. “That now is the time to come up and speak for those who can’t speak anymore… Now is the time for our innocent angels, who unknowingly gave their lives and brought all of these individuals — strangers — who hopefully now will be friends and family… closer together.”
Greene said it was unbelievable how someone could target individuals based on their sexual orientation, when the LGBT community has come so far.
“It’s almost surreal to think that in 2016, something like this could happen,” said Greene. “Where hate, a person has so much hate, to go and take the lives of any individuals based on whatever reason – race, sex, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation – and to cut down these people’s lives.”
Yet despite this, Greene told those who attended not to let hate win or control their lives and identities.
“Love is love. Love is stronger than hate. Do not allow hate to destroy the love that you have, to destroy your uniqueness, to destroy your strength, to destroy your unity.”
The vigil began with a reading of the victims’ names and ages while a projector displayed their photographs. For each victim, a candle was lit in their memory. The shooter, who was killed by police during the massacre, had a candle lit for him as well, though his name was intentionally not uttered.
The candles were arranged in the shape of a heart beside the names of the victims and atop an LGBTQ pride flag, a solemn but tender reminder of the LGBT community’s message in such trying times: that only love can conquer hate.
Any and all vigil attendees were invited to come up and share their thoughts, feelings and experiences, both to help themselves and others. Some came up to share their emotions, while others led through song, prayer, and encouragement.
Though the vigil was a somber affair, it was at the same time very healing and inspirational, and served to unite Richmond’s LGBT community through compassion towards one another and the remembrance of the tragedy in Orlando. Their combined sympathies, sorrow and resolve was a strong reminder that they are in this together, and will never forget the victims of the shooting, nor the senseless and hateful massacre that took their lives.
Through all of the sadness of the vigil, there was a very comforting sense of community.
Reverend E. Taylor Doctor, who leads MCC of Richmond, also offered words of encouragement to the vigil attendees.
“We are people who are known to be resilient,” said Rev. Doctor. “As LGBT people of color, as LGBT people of faith, we are resilient people, and we press forward in the face of adversity, in the midst of tears, in the midst of hurt, because we know that our strength together, our synergetic energy together, even in hurt, is far greater than any hate that can be expressed from outside communities.”
Even humor was present, a testament to the wide range of support offered by vigil goers.
“It’s gonna be alright, it’s gonna get better. You’re gonna find so many cool friends. That guy is gonna be so gone, you’re not even gonna remember his name,” said one member of the congregation, who managed to get the room laughing with his reassuring words.
Once everyone had finished speaking, the vigil was officially over, but almost everyone stuck around afterwards to come together and speak with one another, and there were plenty of hugs being shared. Despite the tragic shooting that is still fresh and painful in everyone’s minds, the vigil at the MCC was a heartfelt, inspiring display of togetherness among the LGBT community, and the love that was present was as bright as the candles lit for those the vigil sought to remember.
Those who do not look upon law enforcement favorably rarely have the opportunity to share their thoughts and feelings with police officers in a safe environment.March 21, 2016
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