Orlando Vigil Brings Together City, University Community

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Community groups from around the Athens area came together to honor the victims of the Orlando shootings that killed 49 people at an LGBT nightclub.

Poets, religious leaders, gay and straight people all stood at the Civil War monument on College Green to speak about their fears and ways of coping with grief.

The event was hosted by the Ohio University LGBT Center, with Director delfin bautista leading the speakers.

“We all have a pulse,” bautista told the crowd, referencing the name of the nightclub where the Orlando shooting took place on Sunday. “Let’s celebrate the pulses.”

Several spoke about the need for togetherness during crisis, and their determination to continue living their lives despite recent tragedies.

“We are one people and we are greater than the sum of our parts.” said Paul Patton, an anthropology professor at Ohio University.

Jake Hagman attended the event to show support for his friends, including bautista, but also to set an example for his four-year-old son. He said that though his son didn’t understand the events of Sunday, he understood that it was upsetting.

“I wanted to bring him here to show that there is good in the world, when unfortunately tragic events do happen,” Hagman said.

City officials also attended, including Athens City Council members and Mayor Steve Patterson. Patterson said he had a personal connection to the LGBT community with a gay son who attempted suicide in fear of coming out.

“It was an unfortunate cry for help, but it was one that a night ago rocked my world again,” Patterson said.

He emphasized the inclusiveness of Athens and promised to maintain it as long as he is the head of the town.

“As mayor of the city of Athens, I will continue to make sure that we are an inclusive community,” Patterson said. “We are strong, we are Athens strong.”