We’re in this together

El Paso shows solidarity for victims of Orlando shooting


Michaela Román

El Pasoans gather around San Jacinto Plaza to mourn the 50 lives lost in the Orlando night club shooting on Sun. June 12.

Michaela Román, Editor in Chief


As the arches spanning over Interstate 10 in downtown El Paso were lit up in rainbow-colored lights, hundreds of El Pasoans gathered on Sunday, June 12, around the newly restored San Jacinto Plaza. They were there for a candlelight vigil for victims of the nightclub shooting that took place earlier that morning in Orlando, Florida.

At least 49 were killed and 53 others injured by one single gunman in an act of terrorism. It was the deadliest mass shooting in United States history and the nation’s worst terror attack since Sept. 11, 2001.

Although the attack took place 1,700 miles away from the borderland, the LGBTQI community, El Paso Sun City Pride and the Mary E. Gonzalez Transitional Living Center still felt it was important to organize a memorial for the lives taken. 

“No matter how far apart we are, we’re still part of the same country, and even if this were to happen in some other part of the world I would hope that we would come together and show our support,” said Rev. Deborah Clugy-Soto from the Revolution United Church of Christ, who spoke briefly at the vigil. “In the world that we live in today, this could even happen to us here. God forbid that it ever would, I would hope we would feel that kind of support from all around too.”

Clugy-Soto said the event came together quickly because Sun City Pride, another six organizations and four churches were all already organizing an event for the one-year anniversary of the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage ruling on June 26. 

The crowd consisted of a wide range of age groups all holding candles as LGBTQI community members spoke. Rev. George Gabriel Giorgetti from Casa Vida de Salud recovery center conducted a prayer in Spanish, followed by an English translation. 

“If God is love, He can’t contradict himself,” Giorgetti said. “God is love, God is not discrimination, God has no race because God is love.”

After a moment of silence, the candles were blown out.

Juan Corona, junior mechanical engineering major, said he felt the event brought light to the fact that everyone should be treated equally.

“I think that it’s something you should support even though it was just in Orlando,” Corona said. “It still has effects here in El Paso.”

Edward Gallardo, president of El Paso Sun City Pride and general manager of EPIC Bar and Nightclub and The Edge Nightclub, said he got word of the shooting when he was closing the bars last night. 

“My first reaction was thinking of safety in our clubs,” Gallardo said.

Gallardo also said El Paso Sun City Pride is all about inclusivity not exclusivity. He asked the crowd to take a moment and look around at one another.

“What I’m going to ask is all of you be the face of pride–whether straight or gay–our allies are out there,” Gallardo said. “Please love one another.”

Mayor Oscar Leeser was also on hand for the vigil. He addressed the crowd as well.

“The one thing that I learned many years ago is that we are all equal and we were all created equal,” Leeser said.

Michaela Roman may be reached at [email protected]