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Wellington’s LGBTQ community speak out on Orlando shooting

Wellington’s gay community are outraged and devastated in the wake of the Pulse Orlando massacre last month.

In the early hours of Sunday 12 June, 2016, Omar Mateen opened fire in Pulse, a gay night club in Orlando, killing 49 people and injuring another 53. It is the deadliest mass shooting in US history.

According to Gun Violence Archive (GVA), the Pulse Orlando shooting marked the 133rd mass shooting in 2016 alone.

GVA collects data on massacres all over the world and report that there have been 13 in New Zealand in the past 87 years. Conversely, there were 29 in the United States in May, 2016.

Third-year Wellington student Jacqueline Yee says: “I think it’s [a case of] we’ve heard this story over and over and it’s really tiring and depressing to keep hearing it.”

A student who is not openly gay says: “I think it’s a really sobering reminder of why places like gay clubs exist and why people participate in pride. It just makes me sad.”

Second-year Massey student Daniel Musson says he appreciates how lucky he was to live in New Zealand where “there isn’t that worry that something could happen.”

“But at the same time, there is nothing stopping some homophobe from going into a bar in Welly and starting to shoot.”

Sam and Laya from Massey’s UniQ were equally saddened by the events.

“Even though a shooting is much less likely in New Zealand, it’s still a horrible reminder that homophobia and hate crimes against LGBTQ+ people are still such an issue. A lot of people are feeling far less safe.”

Wellington City has two gay clubs, both of which are frequented every week by students.

Steven Mawhinney, the owner of Ivy Bar and Cabaret, hopes acceptance and love can triumph following the shooting.

“Most of all we just need more love in this world. [We need] to stop seeing people as straight, trans, gay, lesbian, black, white, Christian, Muslim and everything else in between. [We] just need to see us all as people who all have the right to be who we are and live in peace and let others live in peace.”

National monuments across the globe were illuminated in rainbow colours in the days following the attack as a tribute to the victims, including Auckland’s Sky Tower and Wellington’s own Michael Fowler Centre.

If you would like to help the Orlando shooting victims and their families, a GoFundMe page has been set up at www.gofundme.com/PulseVictimsFund.

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