The LGBT community of Orlando and around the world have been shaken by the recent events of a mass shooting. With more than 50 victims left dead, the world mourns as Pride month continues through out June. In fact, Denver’s very own Pridefest is quickly approaching, taking place on June 18 and 19.
DeMarcio Slaughter has long been a staple in the Denver LGBT community. As a board member for The GLBT Center and the iconic emcee of Denver Pridefest, we wanted to hear his thoughts on the Orlando events, how the Denver community is binding together, and to learn more about the safety of this year’s Denver Pridefest.
PrideFest’s DeMarcio On the Orlando Events and its Effect on This Year’s Festivities
303: The events of the Orlando shooting, especially during Pride month, have really shaken up the LGBT community. Tell us a bit more about your thoughts and emotions during this time?
Slaughter: Like all of my fellow LGBTQ Community and our allies, I am sad. I’m crying a lot. I am hurting for the families and friends of those hurt . I am angry that 49 people lost their lives. I am pissed.
303: How is the Denver community rallying together during this time? What special events and or vigils will there be in Denver?
Slaughter: As always, our Denver Community has united, showing love and support for Orlando. There have been vigils at Exdo/Tracks, Cheeseman Park, Denver University, Fort Collins and Pueblo – which has brought all of the community together. All races, all ages, all religions. Our Latin brothers and sisters, our Muslim friends and family – Together. There is grief, there is prayer, there are tears – however there is determination. There is a new strength from this horrible tragedy and as we mourn, we will push and fight for change, just like we did at Stonewall 40 years ago. We will not beaten. We will not be afraid.
“We will stand stronger and honor those who have lost their lives. We will celebrate unity. We will celebrate love. We will not be afraid.”
303: What is The Center doing during this time? Is there any way our readers can contribute to the victims of the Orlando shooting?
Slaughter: The LGBT Community Center is reminding everyone to be kind to our Muslim neighbors and coworkers. Colorado Muslim leaders were quick to condemn this act of hatred and have shown their solidarity. We all have to rise above this angry rhetoric. The Center and I encourage 303 readers to reach out to the LGBTQ people in their lives; let them know they are valued and loved. PRIDE is about celebrating unity – so come out to the festival this weekend. We need our allies to stand with us and send a message: Love is stronger than hate.
I would strongly encourage those who are able to donate blood. There are over 50 people in Orlando in need, and have a long road to recovery. In addition, any financial contribution to the victims fund that Equality Florida has set up, would be greatly appreciated. Visit eqfl.org for information and to offer support.
303: Are there any precautions being made for Pride this weekend, due to recent events? How is Denver Pride being affected by this?
Slaughter: The LGBT Community Center continues to work very closely with Denver City Officials and the Denver Police Department. We have received no threats of violence. We are moving forward, and Denver PRIDEFest will take place. Safety has always been our number one concern, and just as we have in the past, we are doing our part to ensure the festival is safe for everyone. It will be an emotional weekend – and we stand united, united for us, united for Orlando…we stand united for the world and all those who celebrate love.
303: Talk to us a bit more about the safety of LGBTQ people in Denver. Where can one go if they feel unsafe?
Slaughter: The LGBT Community Center is always a safe place. Should any one feel threatened, contact your local Police Department. No one need live in fear. We must all think smart and be aware in times like these.
303: Anything else you’d like to add?
Slaughter: As I said, I’m really sad and angry right now. I am very aware how I feel. I will process these feelings- and harness this energy, to deliver the best pride experience possible. The Center Stage performers and my team will do the same. We will stand stronger and honor those who have lost their lives. We will celebrate unity. We will celebrate love. We will not be afraid.