“We’ve got to change the hearts and minds of people by showing that we are no different to anybody else,” says a woman attending a candlelit vigil to remember those massacred at an American nightclub yesterday.
A number of people gathered at Ely Market Place tonight to show their solidarity with Orlando in Florida, where gunman Omar Mateen killed 49 people and maimed 53 others at the Pulse gay nightclub on Sunday.
City of Ely councillor Christine Whelan said LGBTQ in Ely had organised the memorial to highlight the danger and homophobic attitudes that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people experience across the world.
“The only way we can beat this prejudice is to show that we are just normal people that love different people and you can’t murder people for who they love.
“It shows that regardless of what laws are made in whatever country there are still prejudices, there are still people who hate you for who you love.
“We can make as many laws as we like but we’ve got to change the hearts and minds of people by showing that we are no different to anybody else.”
Fellow councillor Alison Whelan said Ely was “remarkably tolerant” but the massacre in Orlando highlighted what could potentially happen.
She said many societies were going through a period of scapegoating and blame, often pointing the finger at migrants and “people who are a little bit different”.
Alison said: “When you look and see that Pulse was set up by someone whose brother died of AIDS, something that was meant to be so good has turned into a beacon of complete hatred.
“Lets hope that through that we can start to see some better understanding.”
Fritha Love, of Ely, hopes to attend London Pride on June 25 but is worried following the mass shooting at Pulse.
“It will be interesting to see if more people will come out of solidarity or if it will put people off.”
LGBTQ in Ely meet up at Samovar Tea House in Forehill, Ely, from 10am on the first and third Sunday of every month for Queer Brunch, a meet and greet. They also have a drinks night out organised at the High Flier in Newnham Street on June 24.
For more information about LGBTQ in Ely see https://www.facebook.com/LGBTQEly
Hint of Pink, a closed Facebook group, has 200 members across Cambridgeshire, and can be found at https://www.facebook.com/groups/814712255300624/