Family members, lawmakers and LGBTQ rights advocates will virtually honor the fourth anniversary of the massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida.
The onePULSE Foundation will stream a pretaped ceremony on its Facebook page and YouTube channel Friday evening. The program includes appearances by Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and onePULSE Foundation founder and CEO Barbara Poma. Latin singer-songwriter Yaire and Broadway’s Norm Lewis, who grew up in Orlando, will give musical performances.
In-person ceremonies have taken place at the site of the former nightclub on prior anniversaries, but ongoing efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19 prompted organizers to opt for a virtual event this year.
“We must prioritize the health and safety of the public, the Pulse community, and our employees,” Poma told HuffPost in an email. “We ask the community to join together again, in a different way this year, as a symbol of strength and solidarity in the face of tragedy, forever proving: We will not let hate win.”
Friday marked four years since Omar Mateen opened fire inside the Florida nightclub, killing 49 people ― many of whom identified as LGBTQ ― and injuring dozens more. At the time, it was the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. The 2017 Route 91 Harvest Music Festival massacre in Las Vegas has since become the country’s deadliest mass shooting.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) ordered flags in the state to be flown at half-staff to honor the victims of the shooting. Former Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg, who is gay, marked the anniversary with a poignant video for LGBTQ advocacy group Equality Florida.
Later Friday, Equality Florida will host a filmed staging of Donald Rupe’s “From Here” as a virtual fundraiser. The musical, which debuted at the Orlando Fringe Festival last year, is loosely based on Rupe’s experiences visiting Pulse before the 2016 tragedy.
Both a permanent memorial to the victims and a museum are currently slated to open in 2022.