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SOHO stands with orlando

Last night, in an incredibly moving show of solidarity and defiance, thousands descended on Soho's Old Compton Street to remember the men and women who were massacred in Orlando.

Last night, in an incredibly moving show of solidarity and defiance, thousands descended on Soho’s Old Compton Street to remember the men and women who were massacred in Orlando. Packed shoulder to shoulder, heads bowed, a minute of silence was observed at 7pm, after which the London Gay Men’s Chorus sung Bridge Over Troubled Water and 49 balloons were released, one for each victim. Some waved flags, some raised fists, but all were united in thought – that LBGT people will not live in fear, that those who died mattered, that hate will never win – love wins.

Standing in G-A-Y, or Compton’s, or Ku Bar, or whichever venue out of the many, it was easy to picture the utter carnage at Pulse, to imagine if it was your friend being shot, your boyfriend or girlfriend, or you. The terror they must have felt in their last moments. That poor boy who was texting his mother from the bathroom, so frightened. It felt right to hold each other, to cry, to mourn, to remember the names of those who were killed. We might not know those that died, but it feels like we do – they were us. Our people. Gay clubs look the same all over the world. It felt right to remember them in the same sort of place they died, and lived.

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Aside from being the heart of gay London, Old Compton street holds particular resonance, as it was here at the Admiral Duncan pub that a nail bomb was detonated in 1999, killing two and injuring many more. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, Soho still stands as an island of acceptance, safety and diversity.

The vigil was attended by various political figures, including Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Education Secretary Nicky Morgan. Speaking to The Independent, Corbyn said “We have to live in a society where homophobic hate crime is a thing of the past and the deaths that happened in Orlando are a sign of something deeply awful. We’re here in Old Compton Street because of what happened here and it’s that sense of solidarity that we’ve got.”

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Solidarity. Standing with our brothers and sisters. Acting up, marching, shouting, holding hands. These things didn’t stop being relevant just because we can get married in a few countries and there’s the odd gay person on TV. As the crowd raised their voices to shout “We’re here, we’re queer, we will not live in fear,” it was evident that they’re more important than ever.

Why don’t we say it all the time? These are words to live by. So here it is again.

We’re here, we’re queer, we will not live in fear.

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Tori Rodway, 23. Nikolas, 30. Both work at Dover Street Market.
“We are here to pay homage to the lives lost in Orlando and to show respect and represent LGBT rights across the world, and hope people will realise that this was a crime of hate.”

Ellie Rodham, 19, technical theatre apprentice
“I’m here to remember everyone who lost their lives in a place that was supposed to be safe, and because a lot of the media refuses to acknowledge it for the hate crime that it was.”

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Aria Alagha, 31, social media strategist. Mas Naina, 30.
“We feel that after the Islamaphobic backlash to the homophobic attacks, it is important to show unity and solidarity with each other, and to say no to Islamaphobia and homophobia as one united community.”

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Ellie Rodham, 19, technical theatre apprentice.
“I’m here to remember everyone who lost their lives in a place that was supposed to be safe, and because a lot of the media refuses to acknowledge it for the hate crime that it was.”

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Tori Rodway, 23. Nikolas, 30. Both work at Dover Street Market.
“We are here to pay homage to the lives lost in Orlando and to show respect and represent LGBT rights across the world, and hope people will realise that this was a crime of hate.”

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Source: i-D