June 13, 2016 at 4:00 pm EDT | by Kevin Naff
Rapping their support in Orlando
massacre, gay news, Washington Blade

J.R., Nile First Class and J. Norm of the rap group the College Bums, standing just yards from Pulse nightclub on Monday. (Washington Blade photo by Kevin Naff)

ORLANDO, Fla. — As the shock began to dissipate around this city following Sunday’s Pulse nightclub massacre, locals got to work supporting those in need and coping with their grief.

On a blisteringly hot day, the scene around Pulse is dominated by rows of media trucks that nearly obscure a view of the nightclub. There are widespread road closures around the site of the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. Helicopters roar overhead and makeshift memorials are popping up all over.

The normally bustling South Orange Avenue is closed; police vehicles with lights flashing are parked in the middle of the road. In the midst of this unsettling scene, three young black college students walked toward a group of police officers on Monday around noon. They stopped and began rapping. The three, who are straight and members of a rap group called the College Bums, later explained that they wanted to do something to show their support and solidarity with the victims.

“Straight, gay, it doesn’t matter — at the end of the day, you breathe like I breathe, you bleed like I bleed,” said one of the young men who goes by the name Nile First Class. “If I cut you right now and I cut myself, we’re both going to bleed red, not blue, black or green.”

A Baltimore native, he called on people everywhere to stand up and reject violence.

“Where I’m from, things like this happen all the time,” he said. “And the thing we’re touching on is bringing awareness to people to let them know it’s time to revolt. We can’t stand still and let things go on. People only do what you allow them to do. The more we allow things to happen, it will only continue to happen.”

The three aspiring rappers are students at Full Sail University in nearby Winter Park.

“We heard about the incident and we’re artists, rappers, what we do is make music to lift people,” said J. Norm. “An incident like this, instead of giving a negative response that the enemy wants, we wrote a song to bring people together.”

The song is called “It Can Happen” and will be available on SoundCloud at J. Norm Music starting Monday night.

“We need to come together as a city and unite to overcome this tragedy,” said the group’s third member, known as J.R.

Kevin Naff is the editor and a co-owner of the Washington Blade, the nation’s oldest and most acclaimed LGBT news publication, founded in 1969.

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