Community members organize candlelight vigil for Orlando

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SCOTTSBLUFF, Neb. On Monday evening a group of community leaders and folks who were touched by the Orlando attack gathered together to plan a candlelight vigil for Sunday, June 19. The vigil is to honor and respect the lives lost and injured during the horrific act of terror early Sunday morning at “Pulse,” a popular gay Orlando nightclub.

Community members plan a candlelight vigil for Scottsbluff to honor Orlando victims

The shooting left over 100 people dead or injured. Jeff Leanna a local member of the LGBT community says he felt a combination of emotions when he heard about the attack.

“Thinking of a nightclub or a gay bar, it’s more than just a bar for us, it’s more than just somewhere to go dancing. It is the very essence of the LGBT community, it’s more than a bar, it is community, it brings people together and it is health and wellness,” said Leanna.

The candlelight vigil scheduled for Scottsbluff is not geared towards only the LGBT community, the event hopes to bring the entire community together.

“There will be people of faith, there will be members of the GLBTQ community, there will be people who are without faith, but all of these people have one thing in common and that is wanting to stand,” said Reverend Nona Hodder, pastor of First Christian Church- Disciples of Christ in Scottsbluff.

Leanna says even in small communities like Scottsbluff, there are still feelings of hatred.

“If I’m walking down the street with my boyfriend and we’re holding hands, I’m thinking about as we approach people, do we keep holding hands? Do we let go? You know, do we need to be worried about our safety? Those sorts of things are still really real problems that we are faced by the LGBT community,” said Leanna.

Although the attack in Orlando was terrifying, there is a silver lining.

“In a time of despair and sorrow and fear and anger you can still get hope and love and really in some of our darkest moments, it can bring out the best in humanity and the best in people,” said Leanna.

“Hate does not win, love always wins, and this gathering of this community on Sunday night is about love, and it is about how we will not stop saying no to hate,” said Hodder.

The candlelight vigil will be held Sunday, June 19 at 8:30 p.m. at Centennial Park in Scottsbluff. Everyone is invited and candles will be provided for those who attend. Bringing a small flashlight, additional candles and glow sticks are encouraged in case the wind acts up.