Over 700 people attended a vigil in Glasgow’s George Square last night, in memory of the 49 people brutally killed in an attack on a gay nighclub in Orlando on Sunday.
The vigil, organised at short notice largely using social media, lasted an hour – during which the names of all the victims were read by Joanna Branch, a student from South Carolina.
She said: “We’re here to mourn the loss of lives at a nightclub where people thought they were safe to be who they wanted to be.”
Candles were lit and floral tributes laid in the square, while a piper performed “Flower of Scotland”.
People present at the vigil spoke of the fact that this was a deliberate attack on the LGBTI community. Clo Meehan, from Free Pride Glasgow, told BBC Scotland: “The fact is that for a lot of us who are LGBTQ, part of that community, seeing that kind of hatred is not as much of a shock because it is just an extreme of the hatred that we do we face every day, from harassment on the street, harassment from our family and our work places.
“It really does hit home for us because it just reminds us that even in spaces like a gay nightclub, which is supposed to be a safe space for us, we can still be subjected to that kind of violence.”
Jordan Daly, of the TIE Campaign, told KaleidoScot: ““Last night’s vigil should never have had to happen, but I’m thankful that so many turned out to stand with Orlando and remember those who lost their lives. Our community has been through so much; from the riots of Stonewall, to the upsurge in marriage equality, and now to Pulse nightclub.
“This incident is a blunt reminder that we still have a long way to go until we can all feel truly safe and free in our identities. We must ensure that future generations remember the tragedy at Pulse, and we must ensure that we are true to who the victims were. This was not an indiscriminate act of terrorism – this weekend, our community was attacked, but we must not allow fear to discourage us from standing tall and proud in the face of tragedy.”
The Very Rev Kelvin Holdworth, the Provost of Glasgow’s St Mary’s Cathedral, said: “It’s a feeling that something has to be done, even if it’s just standing beside one another. We need to change the homophobia that’s still present in society.”
It wasn’t only Glasgow that remembered the Orlando victims. A vigil was also held in Dumfries, while a minute’s silence was held at Cheerz – an LGBT club in Aberdeen – after which balloons were released in memory of each of those who lost their lives.
Yesterday the Scottish government flew the rainbow flag over its headquarters. Glasgow City Council also decided to fly the rainbow flag at half-mast over the City Chambers in George Square, providing a fitting backdrop to the vigil itself.
Other similar vigils are being planned across Scotland for the next few days. There will be a vigil today at 5.30 pm at Sir John’s Square, Thurso, Caithness. Edinburgh Stands With Orlando, will take place in St Andrew’s Square, Edinburghj, on Wednesday at 7pm.