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Harsh Reality

Sunday morning I asked Bruce about leaving a little early for church so that we might have time to visit the memorials I'd yet to see. Although that didn't work out, following church it most certainly did. Astonishingly, there are encouraging words all over town; what an amazing change our city has undergone. When Matt was young, he felt that as a gay man he needed to get out of our conservative little city, however, now we seem to have become a mecca for gay individuals from all over. Irony, isn't it?

As to affirming, positive words and slogans, our new church is no exception.
Furthermore, every week they invite parishioners to share what is happening at the church via their social media which is why I felt no qualms while taking this of Reverend Garvey.
During my absence Bruce attended a service on the first Friday night following the tragedy, and the young man, in the plaid shirt pictured above, spoke. His name is Sam; Bruce told me he called himself a queer. I don't know about you, but I'm somewhat confused with this label.  Any explanation from readers would be appreciated. We have spoken with him on a number of occasion,s and he is such a nice fellow, a student at seminary. He does wear full makeup, including bright red lipstick, which puzzles me. In any case, he is a popular fellow while home from school.

Driving into Orlando, from Winter Park, on many store marquees they have something along the lines of Orlando Strong, or Orlando United. While we were in church there looked to have been quite a rainstorm, however, there was no miraculous rainbow over the Dr. Phillips Center when Bruce dropped me off to walk amongst the memorials. Did anyone see the rainbow over Lake Eola during the first vigil there? Astonishing, although I only saw it in photographs. Oh, to have been there in person!
I cannot tell you how moving it is to see this up close. For everyone visiting, I'm sure there was that one thing that triggered emotions more than others. For me it was the Care Bear, plopped on the couch signed and hand printed by children and adults alike.
One of these days I'll dig out one of my favorite photos of Matt and the twins holding the Care Bears that I made them so many years ago. You will love that photo, maybe not as much as I do, but they are fresh from their bath, and looking so beautiful.

Herewith some other photographs sure to give one pause:
The small handwritten sign, signed by the artist, implores anyone who knows the families to please share the portraits.

There are many such banners on the ground.

Here is what will happen to everything:

A closer look at the flag which has been embroidered with all of the names of the dead.
As you clearly see the creativity is amazing. Who would have thought to paint rocks with faces?
Using a blow dryer on crayons is how you get this effect:
 When I first walked up I saw a keyboard that soon was being played softly, and tenderly, by an unknown kind soul. He is under the portico...
Somewhere Over the Rainbow to be exact...

The flower displays are really something:
And yes, those are all real, albeit dyed.

In spite of the new banners along Orange and Michigan Avenue, in our part of town, the headline that the Orlando Sentinel is running today seems to be meant to incite people rather than unite them. Claims of blocked fire exits, along with second guessing the police reaction, will do no one any good. At least that is how I feel!
Now that Orange Avenue is finally open in front of Pulse, the people are coming to pay their respects. We did as well.
While I was standing there, some women asked if I wanted to be part of a healing circle. Asking what was involved, a prayer perhaps, I received an affirmative response. The young man in the red shirt, as well as the woman next to him, along with some on the sidewalk, all joined hands. Young, old, lesbian, Hispanic, we all bowed our heads while a woman invoked blessings for those who were killed. Powerful, to say the least.

This company is tasked with the bio-medical clean up.
Seeing all the new fencing around the property was almost the worst part of my visit. Imagining the young people, wounded, fearing for their lives, either climbing, or scurrying through makeshift holes in the previous fence, almost made me wish I'd not gone. :(

May this never happen again,

Gail
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