'Stay strong' after Orlando, Regina pride festival organizer says
Vigil held in Regina's Q nightclub on Sunday night
With the horror of the Orlando killings still fresh, an organizer with Regina's pride festival says he hopes the community here can find some light in the days ahead.
People from Regina's LGBT community gathered for a vigil at Q nightclub Sunday, the night after a man with a gun killed 49 people in a gay nightclub in the Florida city. The killer also died.
About 200 people gathered at Q to light candles and share their thoughts. At the front of the room were 50 candles for those who died, and another 53 for the people injured.
Jesse Ireland helped pull the event together just hours after the attack.
We need to be able to stay strong, stay connected and keep that love going and go into our pride celebrations fully connected.- Jesse Ireland, co-chair, Regina Pride Inc.
"We were standing in solidarity for the people in Orlando," said Ireland, who is an organizer with the Queen City Pride Festival.
"It didn't affect us physically and personally here in Regina, but we stand in solidarity because this is something that does hit the entire LGBTQ community across the world."
Ireland said the appropriate response to hate is not more hate, but love, and he hopes that's seen during the city's annual pride week festival, which begins on June 18.
"I encourage everyone to come out there and at least talk to one another," Ireland said.
"We need to be able to stay strong, stay connected and keep that love going and go into our pride celebrations fully connected."
He admitted it not always easy to stay positive in the face of the Orlando killings.
"I'm just trying to keep level-headed myself," he said. "It's been a rollercoaster of emotions."