Members of Portland’s LGBTQ community held a candlelight vigil for the Orlando shooting victims Thursday night at the Q Center.
The vigil took place ahead of weekend activities for the Portland Pride Festival, bringing the deaths of 49 shooting victims at a gay nightclub in Florida close to home.
The streets surrounding North Portland’s Q Center were blocked off by police as hundreds of people stood shoulder to shoulder listening to various leaders speak in solidarity with Orlando’s LGBTQ community.
One of the speakers at the vigil was 43-year-old Monty Herron, a grand marshal for the Portland Pride Festival.
Though the event in Orlando shook the LGBTQ community, Herron said he is attempting to stay strong and encourage others to do the same.
“If you’re a person who doesn’t feel strong, then lean on someone who does feel strong,” said Herron. “If you’re a person who feels like you don’t have a voice, then lean on someone who’s sassy and has a big mouth like me.”
Herron said finding a support system during times like these is especially important because it’s easy to get caught up in survivor’s guilt.
“I’m a person who’s been living with HIV for over 20 years and I’ve had that,” said Herron. “Each time I’ve lost a friend, I’ve had to deal with that feeling. So, my words to those folks are: Remember that you’re here for a reason.”
Herron and others who spoke Thursday night will be a part of Portland’s Pride Festival, which will take place this weekend at Tom McCall Waterfront Park.