Pride shadowed by Orlando massacre

Pride shadowed by Orlando massacre

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The nation's deadliest mass shooting was on the minds of many at Sunday's Philadelphia Pride celebration.

Just hours after at least 50 people were killed, and more than 50 more injured, by a lone gunman at an Orlando gay nightclub, more than 10,000 LGBTs and allies converged on Philadelphia for the 28th-annual Pride festivities.

At Jefferson Station, an elderly woman asked a young lesbian couple whether all the rainbow-clad travelers at the station were honoring the Orlando victims. One parade-goer showed his phone to another and read aloud when a news story popped up showing the death toll had drastically risen from 20 to 50. News media camped out in the Gayborhood and at Penn's Landing, with festival attendees stopping to give interviews about celebrating Pride despite the attack. And there was a noticeably beefed-up security presence, with police officers lining the parade route and patrolling at Penn's Landing.

Along the parade route, Julia Klukoff, 17, of Cherry Hill, N.J., drew a rainbow on her friend's face. She said the atmosphere at the event promoted peace and acceptance.

"It's such a positive area to be. Everybody's so excited to be here," she said about Pride. "It's good coming together as a community."

Before the parade kicked off at 13th and Locust streets, Philly Pride Presents executive director Franny Price called for a moment of silence in honor of the Orlando victims, and judges at the reviewing stand on Market Street did the same before the parade reached Independence Mall. Festival performers Prancing Elites dedicated their performance to the victims.

A number of festival speakers referenced the shooting, including Mayor Jim Kenney, who called for unity in the face of hate.

Kenney officiated the wedding of Sherrie Cohen and Virginia Gutierrez, the first lesbian couple he married as mayor, during the festival.

Gutierrez led a moment of silence after the ceremony for the Orlando victims. 

Kenney Tweeted a photo of the ceremony using the caption "love wins over hate."

Kenney is scheduled to participate in a candlelight vigil in memory of the victims 6:30 p.m. Monday at the northeast corner of City Hall.

A vigil was also held Sunday night at Candida's Bar in Allentown.

News about the shooting continued to pour in Sunday. More than 300 people were reportedly inside Pulse nightclub early Sunday morning when, around 2 a.m., the gunman, Omar Mateen, opened fire on the dance floor before taking hostages. Mateen allegedly called authorities to pledge loyalty to radical Islamic group ISIS. Mateen was killed in a shootout with police.

President Obama called the incident an "act of terror and an act of hate."

 


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