June 27, 2016 at 1:06 am EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Pride celebrations honor Pulse nightclub massacre victims

Pulse, Orlando, gay news, Washington Blade

Pride celebrations across the U.S. and around the world this weekend paid tribute to the victims of the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando, Fla. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Participants in Pride celebrations that took place around the country this past weekend paid tribute to the victims of the Pulse nightclub massacre.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Sunday announced plans to build a memorial in lower Manhattan that will honor the victims of the June 12 shooting in Orlando, Fla., and others who have lost their lives to anti-LGBT violence. Terry DeCarlo, executive director of the GLBT Community Center of Central Florida, which is located less than four miles from the Pulse nightclub, was among those who joined Cuomo at his press conference at New York’s LGBT Community Center in Greenwich Village.

“It has been, for a lack of a better word, hell down there,” said DeCarlo. “Your love and support has helped us get through.”

DeCarlo and Hillary Clinton were among those who marched in the parade, which began with a moment of silence for the victims of the Pulse nightclub massacre.

New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito was among the elected officials who carried signs that read, “We are Orlando” in Spanish and English. Several hundred people also marched with Gays Against Guns, a newly formed group that supports more strict gun control laws in the wake of the Pulse nightclub massacre.

“I spent years fighting for marriage equality to protect my family,” said Cathy Marino-Thomas, emeritus board president of Marriage Equality USA, in a press release that Gays Against Guns released before Sunday’s parade. “I’ll be marching Sunday once again to protect my family.”

New York is among the cities in which Pride parades took place on Sunday.

A group of marchers who took part in the annual San Francisco Pride parade carried a rainbow flag with the names and pictures of those who died inside the Pulse nightclub. Chicago’s annual Pride parade began with a contingent who carried posters that also contained the names and pictures of the massacre victims.

Participants in the annual Pride parade in the Puerto Rican capital of San Juan also paid tribute to the victims — 23 of whom were LGBT Puerto Ricans — with banners and posters that expressed solidarity with the families and friends who died.

San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz on Sunday dedicated the U.S. commonwealth’s first LGBT-specific monument to the victims of the Pulse nightclub massacre. She and Mark-Viverito were among those who took part in a candlelight vigil on Saturday in the Puerto Rican capital.

“Today I march for them and us,” said Pedro Julio Serrano, founder of Puerto Rico Para Tod@s, a Puerto Rican LGBT advocacy group, on Sunday in a tweet that contained pictures of the victims of the Pulse nightclub massacre. “Today I march for freedom, justice and equality.”

St. Pete Pride, which is the largest Pride celebration in Florida, on Saturday began it’s parade with 17 minutes of silence for each of the 49 people who died inside the Pulse nightclub and the 53 others who were injured. Four of the victims — Amanda Alvear, Mercedes Flores, Christopher Sanfeliz and Eddie Sotomayor — were from the Tampa Bay area.

Pride events around the world also paid tribute to the victims of the Pulse nightclub massacre.

Newly-elected London Mayor Sadiq Kahn, who is Muslim, on Saturday said as he spoke during his city’s annual Pride parade that “we stand together shoulder to shoulder with Orlando.” Organizers of the annual Pride parade in the Chilean capital of Santiago on Saturday also paid tribute to the massacre victims.

Organizers of an Istanbul Pride march on Sunday acknowledged the Pulse nightclub massacre in a statement that criticized local authorities for banning their annual event.

Police a few hours later arrested at least 19 people who challenged the ban.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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