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Moments of silence, increased security at gay pride events after Orlando shooting

By
Allen Cone
Participants in the gay pride parade in West Hollywood, Calf., remember the victims in Orlando on Sunday. Photo by LA Pride/Twitter
Participants in the gay pride parade in West Hollywood, Calf., remember the victims in Orlando on Sunday. Photo by LA Pride/Twitter

WASHINGTON, June 12 (UPI) -- Attendants at gay pride events across the nation took part in moments of silence Sunday amid beefed-up security after 50 people were killed at an Orlando nightclub earlier in the day.

At Sunday's Capital Pride Festival in Washington, D.C., drawing tens of thousands of people, the event included sadness and anger.

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"It's a sad day for all of us and a powerful reminder that there's still a lot of hatred in the world," said David Mariner, executive director of the D.C. Center for the LGBT Community. "Much work remains all around the world. And much work remains right here in the District of Columbia."

Festival organizers said the event went on as planned, but with increased security, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said.

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The Los Angeles gay pride festival in West Hollywood, Calif., took place after authorities in Santa Monica found explosives and guns in the car of a man who told them for the event.

More than 200 deputies were working the event and had emergency response gear.

LA Pride President Chris Classen the violence would not stop the event.

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"Forty-six years ago, members of the LGBTQ community came out in cities across the country in response to the Stonewall Riots," said Classen in an emailed statement. "Today, we are heartbroken that so many of our brothers, sisters and allies were lost in this tragic attach. As we remember them today at our moment of silence, we must continue to show our pride, not just today but every day. Our brave founders made this happen to show the world who we are. We will be loud. We will be proud and we will celebrate in honor of all those lost."

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Boston Pride planned a 4 p.m. Boston Pride moment of silence at the Back Bay Block Party.

"Boston Pride is working closely with Boston Police Department to ensure the safety and security of all the patrons of the block parties, which are annual events to celebrate Pride Week," the organization said on its website.

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At the Central Alabama pride event Sunday night in Birmingham, Ala., "security will be tighter than ever."

"As we come together to celebrate our community at Pride Fest we are reminded of the hate that still fills this world," Central Alabama Pride posted on Facebook. "We have Pulse Orlando in our thoughts and prayers."

In Pittsburgh, the tens of thousands of participants bowed their heads for 50 seconds in honor of the 50 Orlando victims.

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"It brought tears to my eyes," Judy Douglas, 48, said about the moment of silence. "I'm so glad they did that."

In Philadelphia, police increased security at its Pride Parade and Festival on Sunday morning.

"This is Philadelphia. Philadelphia is the No. 1 city of LGBT pride in the nation," Philadelphia Gay News Publisher Mark Segal said. "Philadelphia is the most LGBT friendly city in America. Do I see problems in Philadelphia? Absolutely not."

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The shooting also happened during Ramadan, the holy Islamic month of fasting, which mixed faith, sexual identity and violence for many gay Muslims.

The Muslim Alliance for Sexual and Gender Diversity said in a statement: "Many of us woke up today to news of a mass shooting at Pulse, an Orlando nightclub serving the LGBTQ community. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. Our thoughts are also with our LGBTQ Muslim community which is feeling this tragedy and the response to it personally."

Besides offering prayers, some people also gave blood to assist the victims.

In Orlando, OneBlood had put out a call for the donations, especially for types O negative, O positive and AB plasma. Hundreds of Central Floridians lined at one blood center.

"We have to be here for our community. I made sure that I came down her so our friends and family can make it out okay," Becky Orero, who worked at the nightclub for five years, told the Orlando Sentinel.

In December, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration relaxed a lifetime ban forbidding gay and bisexual men from donating blood. That ban was instituted after the onset of AIDS heavily affected gay men.

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