CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago’s LGBT community held a pair of vigils Sunday night in a show of solidarity with the victims of the shooting massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando, and another vigil was planned for Monday night.
Hundreds gathered Sunday night in Boystown to remember the 49 people killed by the gunman, pausing for a moment of silence in the heart of Chicago’s LGBT community.
Among those in the crowd was David Sotomayor, whose cousin Edward Sotomayor Jr. was killed at Pulse Nightclub.
“He was such a good person. He was such a good person, and it just … if it was a car crash or anything, it would be a little bit more understanding, but to be from this kind of hate, it’s harder,” he said.
Sotomayor said seeing Chicago come together for the victims will give him strength in the midst of enormous pain.
“I was overwhelmed. I just wanted to be bitter, get into bed, and just cry; and then I just though, and this is not what Eddie would do,” he said. “Put his top hat on, and get out there, and make a difference; and I came, and when I saw everybody out here, it just, it was overwhelming.”
While emotions were raw at times, for many the event was a reminder of how the LGBT community stands as one.
“I come here today, not primarily to say please don’t hate people who pray in Arabic like me, but primarily to say I owe so much to you, to my friends who are gay,” said Eboo Patel, founder of Interfaith Youth Core.
Dozens more gathered in Andersonville on Sunday, including Ben Tyson, who grew up in Orlando, but moved to Chicago three years ago.
“Me and my friends would go to Pulse, and it would be a place where we were home,” he said. “I still have friends that I haven’t heard from. I know of a friend of a friend that was there, and was killed.”
That’s why Tyson’s fiancé decided to organize a vigil in front of Hamburger Mary’s, a popular LGBT hangout at Clark and Balmoral.
“I knew that he would be affected by this, and I knew immediately that this was not just an attack against some random club, some random group of people. This was an attack against the LGBT community, and that was a terrifying thing to face,” Matthew Zaradich said.
Another vigil was scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday at the Center on Halsted, a prominent LGBT community center in Boystown considered the largest of its kind in the Midwest.