Tina Kakadelis
YA Author

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Burn Before Reading: A Carly Allen Story

Quote of the Day: 06.11.17

A year ago, the Pulse nightclub in Orlando was attacked by a man who killed forty-nine and injured fifty-three people on Latinx night.

I remember waking up the next morning seeing all my friends from Orlando marking themselves as safe. I was sleeping on the floor of my friend's apartment in Baltimore. We had both lived in Florida for a few years and we had gone together to pride in D.C. the day before. We were going to drive up to Pittsburgh pride that day. I cried the entire drive.

You never forget your first gay club. Mine was The Park in Roanoke, VA. The Park was dingy, smelled not great, and is maybe closed now, but I remember it fondly. I remember being a freshman in college and I remember walking through the doors and feeling at ease in a place I'd never been before. It looked like a weird abandoned warehouse in an empty parking lot in the kind of already empty city that is Roanoke. I remember the bar and the neon sign behind it. When a gay junior said my girlfriend at the time and I should go to The Park, I thought she meant an actual park with trees.

No one is ever going to have words to explain this or understand it because it's senseless. It was an attack on a community on a night specifically for Latinx LGBT people during a month of celebration. Don't forget their names and their stories. We can't let hate win.

If you've ever spoken to me, you'll know how much I didn't like living in Florida. You can't blame me, it's a swamp with 100% humidity in the middle of December. But after the attack, the city of Orlando became one of the most beautiful, resilient cities I've ever seen. I cried at the memorials and the lines to donate blood that wrapped around the block and the love that poured out. I'm proud to have lived in that city.

Today's quote comes from the musical The Color Purple. It was originally a novel written by Alice Walker and then adapted into a movie. Last year, the Tony Awards were on the same night as the news broke about the Pulse shooting. For the performance, Cynthia Erivo sang I'm Here. The song is her character's triumphant ballad from the second act where she stands up and says, "I love who I am and I am not going anywhere." She won the Tony Award and it's pretty obvious why.

Finally, here is the Lesbian and Gay Big Apple Corps Marching Band and Color Guard performing Shut Up and Dance at Stonewall's vigil for Orlando. They had been playing more emotional, sad songs, but decided to end their time with this one. Don't forget to dance. There's still love out there and love will save the world.