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Charleston Pride 2016

Lauren Insinger, Staff Writer

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When the powerful bass of the Pulse nightclub was met with gunshots on June 12th, the world seemed to stop. Forty-nine people were killed and fifty-three were wounded in the deadly shooting at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

After the shooting, vigils were held and outpouring support surrounded the LGBT+ community. People supported families of the victims and President Obama called it an act of terror and added that “in the face of hate and violence, we will love one another.”

Although there was love and kind words, that wasn’t enough to keep me from thinking, “It could have been me.”

Weeks later, on an early Saturday morning in Downtown Charleston, iconic gay anthems like “It’s Raining Men” and “I’m Coming Out” were roaring throughout the streets at Charleston Pride. Cars and floats from all different organizations lined the streets, their drivers decked out in rainbow attire, glitter, and tutus. I was with my church friends who were ready to start the day, and so was I, but in the back of my head there was the constant thought of it could have been me.

We marched through the streets and saw many smiling faces and couples kissing and cheering with us, one of our favorite cheers being “I say ‘I’m,’ you say ‘gay’” and other cheers that riled up the crowd. It was beautiful to see those who knew of the tragedy of Orlando still be proud and love each other so deeply.

At one point, I look at my own girlfriend. She’s laughing and enjoying the energy from the crowd. Her smile melted my own heart because the thought came back.

It could have been me.

Finally it was the time of the parade I dreaded the most: the protesters. Evangelical men and women who have nothing better to do than to criticize innocent people with Bible verse after Bible verse clearly taken out of context, discouraging our ‘sinful and ungodly’ lifestyle. We still marched on and shouts of, “Jesus loves all of us!” fought back the ugly words.

We made it to the end of the parade party and as I sat next to my friends and loved ones, the “It could have been me” thought did not echo anymore. I was free. The feel of the summer sun of my face and the happy chatter of people made me think that it’s the present we should be living in, not the past. Rather we should learn from the past and use that knowledge to venture onto a brighter future.

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The student news site of Wando High School
Charleston Pride 2016