Members and supporters of the LGBTQ community gathered in a park in a Southeast area of Albuquerque Sunday evening in solidarity with the victims of the mass shooting in Orlando, Florida.
Hundreds of people gathered while local politicians and advocates spoke out against violence and discrimination against the LGBTQ community.
University of New Mexico LGBTQ Resource Center Director Alma Rosa Silva-Bañuelos opened the somber and tearful event by addressing the Orlando shooting.
“We lost our family this morning and that’s why we’re gathering here today,” Rosa Silva-Bañuelos said. “If you’re sad it’s okay because it shouldn’t be happening in 2016.”
Rosa Silva-Bañuelos repeated a common sentiment that these bars and clubs are often a place of comfort for a community that may not have another place to go.
“This massacre happened in a gay bar, our history comes from these places and these bars,” Rosa Silva-Bañuelos said.
State legislators and city leaders were also in attendance including Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry and Albuquerque Police Chief Gorden Eden.
Sen. Jacob Candelaria, D-Albuquerque, who is also New Mexico’s first openly gay legislator, praised the LGBTQ community in New Mexico for remaining peaceful in when faced with violence.
“We have not met the hate that is directed at our communities with more hate,” Candelaria said.
Albuquerque City Councilor Pat Davis* called for action from the community to denounce violence and discrimination.
“This is an action that is not just hitting Orlando,” Davis said. “It’s time we stand up and do something about it.”
Abbas Akhil, the president of the Islamic Center of New Mexico denounced the actions of the shooter in Orlando and said his actions are not supported by the Islamic faith.
“The person who has done this not really from our faith,” Akhil said. “We are here today and we express our sorrow and we express our solidarity with our community.”
The vigil ended as participants lit candles in memory of the victims in the Orlando shooting and joined together in a tearful version of Amazing Grace.
* Pat Davis is the executive director of ProgressNow New Mexico. ProgressNow New Mexico helps find funding for NM Political Report. Neither Davis or anyone else at ProgressNow New Mexico has editorial input on stories by NM Political Report.