June 13, 2016 at 6:14 pm EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
D.C. vigils, community forum set for Orlando remembrance
Black Caucus, gay news, Washington Blade

(Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

At least two candlelight vigils and an LGBT community forum commemorating the 49 people who lost their lives and the 53 who were injured in Sunday’s shooting rampage at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., were set to take place in Washington early this week.

A vigil organized by the Muslim American Women’s Policy Forum was set to take place 7:30 p.m. tonight (Monday, June 13), in Dupont Circle, according to postings on social media. 

In a Facebook posting, the group said the vigil was intended to “mourn the lives of people killed and wounded in Orlando, Florida due to homophobic and transphobic violence.” The posting added, “We are calling on communities to reject Islamophobia and xenophobia as a response to fighting homophobic and transphobic violence.”

A second vigil, organized by the local LGBT Catholic group Dignity Washington, is scheduled to also be to be held in Dupont Circle on Wednesday, June 15, at 8 p.m. A posting on Dignity Washington’s Facebook page says other local LGBT supportive churches and faith based groups will participate in the vigil.

Among them are the LGBT-supportive synagogue Bet Mispachah, Covenant Baptist Church, United Church of Christ, Metropolitan Community Church of Washington, MCC of Northern Virginia, More Light Presbyterians, and National City Christian Church. Also participating will be the D.C. Center for the LGBT Community and the Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs.

Dignity Washington President Vin Testa said D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and D.C. Congressional Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton were considering attending the event.

“We’re doing this to share that we’re standing in solidarity with Orlando and also that we’re not going to go back in fear,” Testa said. “We’re going to stand together as a community and we just want Orlando to know that we’re thinking of them.”

The D.C. Center for the LGBT Community is holding a community forum to discuss the implications of the Orlando incident on Wednesday night, June 15, at 6:30 p.m. Center official Samantha Shinberg said the forum is tentatively scheduled to take place at the Center’s offices in the Reeves Center Building at 2000 14th St., N.W.

But Shinberg said the close to 500 RSPVs and 1,120 “interested” responses the Center received on its Facebook page has prompted the Center to look for another, larger location to hold the event, possibly in a church near Dupont Circle so that attendees can walk to Dupont Circle to attend the Dignity Washington vigil.

She said the Center would announce on Facebook and other social media any change in the location of the forum.

Even if it takes place at the Center’s office, activists planning to attend have said they expect to be able to make it to the Dupont Circle vigil upon the completion of the Center event.

The three events set for Monday and Wednesday followed at least two spontaneous vigils commemorating the Orlando shooting victims held Sunday night, one in Dupont Circle and the other on the grounds of the U.S. Capital. That same night the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, without advance notice, assembled in front of the White House and sang a tribute to their fallen LGBT comrades at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando.

Vigils commemorating the Orlando tragedy were also set to take place Monday night in other cities across the country, including Baltimore, Richmond, Los Angles, and New York City. The New York vigil was set to take place outside the Stonewall Inn bar, where the 1969 Stonewall riots took place.

Several local drag queens are joining forces for an event Friday night from 8-10 p.m. at Freddie’s Beach Bar (555 S. 23rd St., Arlington, Va.). All proceeds will be donated to LGBTQ Orlando. Contact Destiny B. Childs via Facebook if interested.

The Washington Blade will report on other local events and activities related to the Orlando shooting incident as they become known.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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