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In Louisville, Candlelight Vigil Shows Support For Orlando Victims

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Brit Watkins remembers Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, for the colorful lights and the people.

"Everybody is so friendly," she said.

Watkins, 30, was at the club earlier this month and said inside, the patrons felt safe and happy. But her memory was forever scarred shortly after she woke up Sunday morning.

By then news had spread across the world that an armed man killed 50 people and wounded dozens more inside Pulse Sunday morning.

"Last night, the world got flipped upside down," Watkins said.

She joined nearly 1,000 people Sunday evening around sunset at Louisville's Big Four Bridge for a candlelight vigil to show support for victims of the shooting. The crowd gathered at the foot of the bridge, where local elected officials gave brief statements. There was a similar gathering in Jeffersonville, Indiana. The crowds met in the middle of the bridge.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer denounced the violent attack and discrimination more generally. And he called on people to show support for the area's LGBTQ community by showing up to the Kentuckiana Pride Festival later this week.

State Representative-elect Attica Scott called on leaders to push for more local gun control. At present, Kentucky law prevents local governments from enacting their own gun laws.

Chris Hartman, the Fairness Campaign's director, said now is a time for everyone to stand in solidarity.

"To stand strong, to stand in love, to stand in peace and justice and fairness for all," he said.

And Diana Rae, who is Miss Kentuckiana Pride Fest 2016, said news of the attack "strikes a chord."

"What if it was me, what if I didn't get to say goodbye, what if," Rae said.

Watkins said the vigil sends a message that love and peace will not be silenced by hate and violence. Still, she added, "it is scary."

She said hate and violence against LGBTQ people are still all too common.

"And I thought we were beyond all of that, beyond the hate," she said. "Love is love, and it is what it is, and there's not anything anyone can do to change it."

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Jacob Ryan joined LPM in 2014. Ryan is originally from Eddyville, Kentucky. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.