‘We’re never going back in the closet’: LGBTQ community in Utah reacts to Orlando attack

Posted at 9:28 PM, Jun 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-13 09:01:24-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah's LGBTQ community is reacting to the mass shooting that took place at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida early Sunday morning.

"Club Pulse is no different than Club Try-Angles: We're all targets, we're out here, and we're going to take care of each other the best we can," said Gene Gieber, owner of Club Try-Angles in Salt Lake City.

Gieber interrupted his usual Sunday afternoon barbecue for clients on the club's patio in order to lead them in a moment of silence.

"Don't hate, just love the ones we've lost", he said, before the small crowd went quiet.

Troy Williams, the Executive Director of Equality Utah, expressed the frustration likely felt by many when he told Fox 13 News: "It was devastating to see the largest hate crime, the largest mass shooting in American history, directed at our community."

Jackie Biskupski, the first openly gay mayor of Salt Lake City, issued a statement Sunday which reads in part: "As an openly gay woman, I can't help but view this tragedy as an attack on all people who identify as LGBTQ --a hate crime perpetrated to silence our community during the month of Pride."

But while Utah's LGBTQ community mourns the loss in Florida, many believe it will also help strengthen the resolve of those working for equality in Utah and beyond.

"We are a part of this great state, we are a part of this great nation, and we're never going back in the closet, we're never going away," said Williams, adding, "The one thing we have in common is that we are all Americans, and dark moments like this is when we can come together, put politics aside, and lets stand together and stand united."

Equality Utah is organizing two vigils honoring those killed and injured in Florida. One will be held at the Salt Lake City and County Building Monday at 7 p.m. The other will be held in Provo, also at 7 p.m. Monday, with the exact location yet to be announced.