I was talking today with my client for my current project this afternoon, for the first time one-on-one. After mentioning that I was Orlando based, he asked how things have been going here since the shooting at Pulse. Things are definitely different here. While most of the world was getting into politics within a day or so, that transition hasn't happened yet here. In fact, I don't think it's viewed the same way here compared to the rest of the world. Also, press coverage has been very different domestically versus internationally.
Yesterday, I drove down Orange Avenue, passing Pulse. I've driven by it a hundred times, at least, by now. This time, there's a fence around it with a black screen, and temporary barriers in the road close down one lane. It looks so small now, with that huge sign out front. It doesn't seem like 49 people could have lost their lives there. It doesn't seem like a place that could be a mile and change from where we work. That's the thing that makes this different for me, because unlike the church shooting a year ago, any number of school shootings, or even 9/11, it's not possible to just compartmentalize what happened because of the proximity. None of my friends were there, but there is only one degree of separation to people who died there.
Locally, the politics of the murderer aren't that important, but it is absolutely viewed as an attack on the LGBT and Latino communities. The US press didn't seem to get that angle as much as the foreign press did. I'm not sure how to interpret that. There are rainbows everywhere you look here. I fear that most of the world has moved on, but it's been amazing to see people step up and donate to any number of non-profits, including giant employers like Disney and NBCUniversal. The local faith communities, including all of the major religions, have also come together to help the community heal.
I will say that there has been somewhat of a transition. The initial reaction was for people to take care of each other in a time of impossible sadness, and the community did that in an extraordinary fashion. It makes me happy to call this area home. By the time of the big vigil around Lake Eola last weekend, the focus had transitioned a little to one of joy that we could take care as well as we did. A friend of mine, who is very active with LGBT advocacy groups, mentioned yesterday that, while there are still a lot of intense emotions in play, people are starting to have a little fun again at events and gatherings. As I said, things aren't "normal" here, and I don't even know what that looks like. It's too close to home.