Orlando, We Are With You

I was in Orlando, Florida yesterday. I was there giving a morning keynote to the American Library Association convention. Because I knew I was going to be in Orlando, I reached out to the HRC who have been wonderful advocates and leaders in the immediate aftermath to see if I could be of service to the city. I wanted to thank the first responders for all for their hard, hard work, their bravery, their sacrifice.

Jennifer Foster, a longtime HRC supporter and proud member of the LGBT community in Orlando, arranged it all, and I had the privilege of meeting with Mayor Buddy Dyer, Chief of Police, John Mina, Chief of Staff, Frank Billingsley, city CFO Chris McCullion, City Council members, including openly gay Commissioner Patty Sheehan who has served as a a fierce advocate for her community, and various divisions of law enforcement — SWAT, police, the fire department, first responders and dispatch. I was also able to go to the Orlando United Assistance Center which was set up immediately after the shooting as a place of comfort, advocacy, and resources for victims and their families. There I met with family members who still have loved ones in hospital, many in ICU, people who lost their loves and the many volunteers who are donating their time to give gentle care and get victims answers and services.

The city of Orlando will be remembered and known as a city of love, inclusion, and community.

I told them that I was speaking for all of you who are reading this. That they are loved and supported around the world. That we know of their service, sacrifice and bravery, and that the city will slowly recover, and that it will recover. That the city of Orlando will be remembered and known as a city of love, inclusion, and community. That this hateful act will NOT define them or their city but the loving response to this hatred WILL.

In fact, Orlando has had an “Ambassador of Love” for over 10 years now. They have been a leading city in diversity and tolerance so it is more shocking that this attack occurred here.

No one involved ever imagined they would be in this situation — from the victims, their families, the volunteers and all law enforcement. The whole city feels this. The way that Orlando has come together, uniting as one, supporting each other and taking care of the fallen and their families confirms everything I have always hoped about humanity, strength and the tenacity of the human spirit.

The way that Orlando has come together confirms everything I have always hoped about humanity, strength, and the tenacity of the human spirit.

They have set up the OneOrlando Fund, info@oneorlando.org Please send a donation made out to OneOrlando Fund and mailed to OneOrlando, PO Box 4990, Orlando, FL 32802-4990 or text ORLANDO to 501501 to donate $10 to help the victims and families.

Please show your support and join me and the world when we say, we are with you, we care and most importantly, love conquers hate! #OrlandoUnited

The HRC has made this video. Please watch it and share it.