In the wake of the shooting, several local LGBTQ organizations coordinated with one another and offered support to those grieving.
Activist Linda Estabrook told Eyewitness News they are choosing hope over hate.
“Profound sadness. I decided that it was important to wear a black arm band and I know I'm going to being doing that for a number of days this week,” Estabrook said.
As Estabrook watched the chaos and devastation unfold on television, she said her thoughts immediately went to her staff. She runs the Hartford Gay and Lesbian Health Collective.
“My first reaction was the safety of our staff here, of our clients,” Estabrook said. “I called the mayor's office. He connected me with the chief of police and I talked to both of them a couple of times yesterday."
On Monday, Estabrook regrouped with her colleagues and discussed how they will continue to serve the local LGBTQ community amidst such sadness. They offered services ranging from Sexually transmitted diseases testing to education and advocacy.
“We're about health,” Estabrook said. “We're about physical health and mental health, and we're here to be a resource for the community and, again, people can call us."
As Estabrook said she herself comes to grips with the mass shooting, she added she refuses to accept that this will be the norm in American society.
“It just sounds tremendously hopeless that there are so many people that just seemingly accept this and there are plenty of us who don't,” Estabrook said.
GLAAD also released a statement on the shooting on Monday and said they "stand in solidarity with Florida’s LGBTQ community."
“Our hearts are broken for the victims and families of the horrific tragedy in Orlando. This unimaginable atrocity has not only robbed countless people of their loved ones, it has also stolen a sense of safety within the LGBTQ community. As we mourn the victims of this unspeakable attack, we are also reminded that the work to end hate in all its forms must continue," GLAAD President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said.
As her organization reached out, Estabrook said she believes we can all do our part to ease the pain.
“We can help each other. It doesn't have to be something big,” Estabrook said. “It can be a phone call. It can be a text. It can be an email just saying I'm here for you."
Those in the LGBTQ community can call the hotline at 407-228-1446 or engage in an online chat by clicking here.
There is a GoFundMe page for the victim's families. To donate, click here.
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