It’s been one year since 49 LGBTQ people and allies lost their lives at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, in the largest mass shooting in modern American history.
It was an event that shook LGBTQ people to their cores on a global level, and one that revealed disparities in access to crucial resources for LGBTQ people of color in the wake of tragedy.
Pulse also affected a specific group of people that many did not immediately consider: individuals who make their livings working in nightclubs.
For Trinity Taylor, a finalist on the current season of “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” the Pulse massacre hit especially close to home because she used to work in the club on a weekly basis ― she even won the title of Miss Pulse in 2011. But, in the eyes of the star, one major lesson to take away from what happened that night is people who work in nightclubs ― and LGBTQ people in general ― cannot let fear dictate their actions.
“No one should go through life fearing what possibly could happen,” she told HuffPost. “Because, girl, you could get into a car and get into a car wreck and then your life is over. You just never know what life is going to deal you and when it’s your time to go, it’s your time to go. The biggest thing with this is we can not allow other people to determine if we live our lives or not – with fear. You have to live your life and enjoy every minute of it because you never know what’s going to happen.”
Sasha Velour, one of Taylor’s fellow “RuPaul’s Drag Race” finalists, spoke about how nightclubs not only provided places for the LGBTQ community to come together and grieve, but also highlighted the importance of the spaces as places where healing could begin to happen.
“I think it’s easy with the fun of drag and the fun of nightlife to be catty or negative, and I saw in response to the tragedy people really trying to appreciate each other and use love and community actively as ways of us coming together and helping each other heal very specifically with what had happened,” Velour told HuffPost. “Also, just more generally understanding that nightlife can be a space where we can mourn, a space where people can talk about the difficulties that we face elsewhere in the world. A space where can talk about violence. And I don’t think that we had realize the necessity of doing that in nightlife as much. Always kind of drawing a line between political life of queer people and our kind of fun life ― this event really blurred those lines and our response had to as well.”
Head here to read more about the broader community impact of the year since the Pulse Massacre, and tune in to see who wins “RuPaul’s Drag Race” on Vh1 on June 23.