The place that was just a name to me a year ago, before I got accepted into my Disney Program has now become my home. It is the place I have met some of the most amazing people from all over the world, it is the place I’ve lived, the place I’ve worked, the place I’ve explored, it is the place that I call my home. This place is Orlando, Florida, the city beautiful.

But it’s different now. Now it is the place that has been tainted by one mans actions, it is a place that brings forty nine families incredible heartbreak, it is the place that will be in the news for the next few weeks constantly reminding us of the horrific night that so many lives were lost. It is the place that will be known as ” where the largest massacre in the history of the US took place. ”  But it’s still home, this place is Orlando, Florida, the city beautiful.

In the two days since that night I have never experienced such palpable sadness and mourning around me. The idea of being fast asleep while 20 minutes away a decision is being made that is going to change lives in the most tragic way possible is something I never thought I would experience. Arriving at work and having the news echo on every radio station and television playing, watching the events unfold, hearing a mothers plea trying to find out if her child is alive, reading the messages victims sent out during the attack, seeing images of the injured, the traumatized and the survivors. The people of Orlando, Florida, the city beautiful.

” I know I will never understand, comprehend or accept what happened, when your reason was that you saw two men kissing. I don’t know how it is possible for you to feel the kind of anger that your father feels justified your actions. I don’t know why you decided to walk into a place that celebrated all, equality, love, happiness, freedom, and then you murdered it all. I don’t know why you have been given a platform to blame religion, sexuality, and the victims themselves for the decision you made. I will never know why you thought you had the right to take so much away from so many people. ”

Even though so much has been taken from this city, I have never seen such a beautiful time of unity. Something that has made me feel so proud of being able to call this place home for seven months. That Orlando pride. From the first responders that faced a horrific task, the community that stood in line for five hours in the Florida heat to donate blood, the people opening their houses for the victims pets, the airlines offering ways for families of victims to get here, the hotels opening up their doors to the family’s. The moments of silence, the candlelight vigils, the positives words, the images of the people of Orlando showing their support, the people that took on LA Pride in the name of Orlando and the sheer resilience of the LGBT community, we commend you.

To the victims, we are sorry. To the families and friends of the victims, words cannot express what we feel for you. I mourn with you, I mourn with the rest of the world, we  mourn with you, Orlando, Florida, the city beautiful.



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