'Somos Orlando:' PRLACC hosts Orlando solidarity event aimed at healing

Leaders on campus came together to pay tribute to the victims of the Orlando Massacre and to stand in solidarity against hate in the Student Union ballroom on Tuesday, October 4, 2016. (Amar Batra/The Daily Campus)

On Tuesday, the Puerto Rican and Latin American Cultural Center hosted the We Are Orlando Solidarity event to encourage healing, solidarity and social justice in light of the horrific massacre at the Pulse Gay Night Club. The event included speeches from people from the Rainbow Center, various cultural centers and the Women’s Center.

On June 12, 49 people were killed and 53 more were wounded in Orlando, Florida during an act of violence. A majority of the victims were of Latino descent. The massacre was the most violent attack against LGBT people in United States history, as well as the deadliest terrorist attack in the United States since the September 11 attacks in 2001.

The ballroom filled with Latino music and the screen showed a powerful slideshow featuring pictures from Orlando. A tragedy such as this would not stop UConn’s community from advocating for social justice. Although it affected many people within the LGBT community, it is crucial to remember it also deeply affected people of color, trans people, colored trans-men, colored trans-women, and Latin-mixed people.

Throughout the event, the theme of community reoccurred in each of the individual speeches. Many speakers mentioned spreading awareness about the individual communities affected. However, they asked the audience to remember that these tragic events affect everyone. Times like these create opportunities for people to come together as a community, especially here at UConn in solidarity and unity.

When coming together as a community the speakers encouraged an open discussion about the recent tragedies. Offering a safe space to hold an open discussion provides a way for UConn’s community as well as others to heal. “I hope we continue to hold each other up,” said Fleurette King, the Director of the Rainbow Center.

Near the end of the event, three student speakers walked onto the stage to read off the names of the victims and hold a moment of silence in memory of them. In incidents such as these, it is important to remember the victims of the massacre, instead of the perpetrator. The students pointed out that each of the victims had unique personalities, as well as their own individual stories.

Closing the event, Fany D. Hannon, director of the Puerto-Rican/ Latin American Cultural Center, delivered a Spanish saying: “En la unidad esta la fuerza, pero en la solidaridad esta la sanativo,” which means: “There is strength in unity and healing in solidarity.”

Hannon’s first thought when hearing of the massacre was to reach out to her students, especially those that were a part of the communities affected. She provided comfort by reminding them that they are loved and they are not alone. In her speech, she extended that same message to the students and faculty of UConn. “You are loved, you are important and you are not alone,” Hannon said.  

Emma DeGrandi is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at emma.degrandi@uconn.edu.