Austin community gathers to show support to victims of Orlando shooting

The Austin community is showing their support for victims of the deadly shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando.               

LGBTQ members, city leaders and religious leaders all spoke about how this tragedy has affected life across the nation.

Isabella King used to live in the Orlando area and has visited Pulse nightclub, where the shooting occurred, in the past.

“My heart goes out to everyone, whether I knew them or not, we're all part of this community. We’re all family,” said King 

The thought that some of her friends could have been killed in the deadly shooting on Sunday morning is almost too much for her to take.

“I'm still trying to process it, because I don't know if there are people I know in that building,” King said. 

Isabella was joined by dozens of LGBTQ community members on the steps of the Capitol Sunday as they prayed for the victims and their loved ones.

“I can't even imagine the level of grief and sorrow that victims’ families must be going through at this point and time. All that we can offer from here and from around the country are for people to know that we have them in our thoughts and prayers,” said CEO of Equality Texas Chuck Smith. 

The shooter in Orlando reportedly pledged allegiance to ISIS, but Muslim leaders in Austin said he does not speak for them or the greater Muslim community.

“The LGBT community, every single member of the LGBTQ community, is my brother and my sister,” said Sheikh Mohamed Umer of the Nueces Mosque. 

Sunday's attack hit LGBTQ people at one of their most sacred places.
               
“LGBT bars have a history in the movement as being a safe place where LGBT people go to get away from discrimination, to get away from experiencing homophobia or transphobia. And today's shooting pierces that safe place and pierces it to our very hearts, but at the same time, we can't allow any act of terrorism to force anyone to live their lives differently,” said Smith. 

That's something city leaders in Austin hope will never happen here, although they know this shooting could have easily been in their own backyard.

“Let’s choose unity over division, let's choose confidence over fear, let's choose lightness over darkness and let's choose love over hate,” said Austin Mayor Steve Adler. 

That's why Adler is standing with LGBTQ members, to remind them that no act of terror against their community will ever be tolerated.

“We are not all the same and it is too easy to find fear in our differences and in today's world it is happening too often,” Adler said. 

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