Rockhampton’s LGBTI community is in a state of shock but standing in solidarity against the horrific hate crime in a gay nightclub in Orlando.
Gunman Omar Mateen opened fire in Pulse nightclub in the deadliest mass shooting in US history, in which 50 people were killed and another 53 taken to hospital with critical injuries.
Club-Rok secretary Alan Flood (pictured) told The Morning Bulletin that while shocked at watching the tragedy unfold he believes this kind of hate crime is still isolated, as society has become more accepting and inclusive of diversity.
“I don’t believe these terrorists reflect the values of our communities,” Mr Flood said. “Trying to understand it all is very difficult, but I believe our community is supportive and very diverse.”
Club-Rok president Tracey Wilson agrees, saying Rockhampton had become more inclusive of the LGBTI community in the decade since the club formed.
A parent herself, Ms Williams told The Morning Bulletin she couldn’t imagine how families still waiting to find their loved ones would be feeling.
“How could anyone just hate people that much to do that, to gun them down like that?” she said.
“It hits you right in the gut. It is hard to believe.”
If anything can come out of the Orlando tragedy, Ms Williams hopes everyone will embrace the LGBTI community.
She said it was important to show hate wouldn’t win.
“If we can change a handful of people’s minds towards the gay community, we’re making a start,” she said.
“They’re not going away, they’re not going to hide.”
The Club-Rok committee will meet to discuss how the Rockhampton community can pay their respects to victims of the Orlando massacre.
(Photo courtesy of Rockhampton Morning Bulletin)