Friday, June 12 marks four years since the Pulse nightclub shooting, in which 49 people were killed and 53 people were wounded at an LGBTQ+ and Latinx club in Orlando, Florida. It was the worst hate crime against LGBTQ+ people in U.S. history.
Every year since the tragedy, the onePULSE Foundation (a nonprofit created by survivors) has held a remembrance ceremony on June 12. This year, amidst the Covid-19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter uprising, the ceremony will be held virtually, allowing anyone to attend from any city.
“[The Annual Remembrance Ceremony] observance brings together the families of those whose lives were tragically taken and provides them a space to remember their loved ones in peace,” organizers wrote on Facebook. “We also honor all who survived, the brave first responders and our trauma teams who sacrificed so much to save so many.”
The virtual ceremony will take place on Friday at 7 p.m. EST. It will include a reading of all 49 names of the people who were lost by loved ones. Latinx singer-songwriter Yaire will perform, as well as Orlando-raised singer and actor Norm Lewis.
Additionally, there will be speeches from Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, onePULSE Foundation Founder and CEO Barbara Poma, and Orlando Poet Laureate Susan Lilley, who wrote two original poems for survivors and first responders.
In addition to the ceremony itself, the city of Orlando will honor the memory of the Pulse tragedy by flying city flags at half-staff. Usually, a rainbow also appears over the city during the remembrance ceremony. But this year, “The foundation is encouraging everyone to ‘Be the Rainbow’ this year and to embody the essence of love, hope, unity, acceptance, courage, and strength,” says onePULSE Foundation Board Chair Earl Crittenden.
The site of the Pulse shooting has been turned into a memorial for victims and survivors. On June 12, the memorial will be closed to the general public to allow space for survivors to mourn.