Billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson made history on July 11 by flying to the edge of space in his Virgin Galactic rocket plane, and he did it while proudly wearing a rainbow flag pin in memory of the Pulse Nightclub victims.
“Somebody who lost a loved one at the Orlando massacre asked if I would do that,” Branson told the Daily Mail. “We also have many, many friends who are gay and I know people who lost friends there.”
In the video below, Branson says in a voiceover, “My mission statement is to turn the dream of space travel into a reality – for my grandchildren, for your grandchildren, for everyone.” On the word ‘everyone’ the camera cuts to a shot of the Pride ribbon clearly making a statement.
My mission statement is to turn the dream of space travel into a reality – for my grandchildren, for your grandchildren, for everyone.
President Biden commemorated Pride Month for first his year in office on Friday with a reception at the White House, detailing the initiatives his administration has made on behalf of the LGBTQ community and declaring “Pride is Back at the White House.”
“We’re also making progress, but I know we still have a long way to go, a lot of work to do,” Biden said. “We must protect the gains we’ve made and fend off the cruel and unconscionable attacks that we’re seeing now to ensure the full promise of dignity and equal protection.”
Joining Biden on stage for the reception in the East Room was first lady Jill Biden and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who could claim historic status of participating in the event as the first openly gay official to obtain Senate confirmation for a Cabinet-level role.
Biden was introduced by Ashton Mota, a 16-year-old transgender advocate from Lowell, Mass., and a leader with the GenderCool Project.
During his remarks, Biden’s made note of the recent spate of state laws targeting transgender youth, including restricting their access to transition-related health care and schools sports. Biden called the bills “nothing but bullying disguised as legislation.”
So far this year, hundreds of anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced in state legislatures – many of them target transgender children.
Let’s be clear: This is bullying against kids disguised as legislation – and it must stop. Enough is enough.
Biden also named Jessica Stern, currently executive director of OutRight Action International, as a special diplomatic envoy at the State Department for LGBTQ rights. Her responsibilities will include ensuring that U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect LGBTQ rights around the world.
Additionally, Biden signed into law a congressional resolution designating the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida, as a national memorial. On June 12, 2016, the club was the site of the deadliest attack on the LGBTQ community in U.S. history when Omar Mateen opened fire on club goers killing 49 people and wounding 53 more.
“We’ll never fully recover, but we’ll remember.”
Pres. Biden signs National Pulse Memorial bill, “a monument to the loss that occurred there and absolute determination that we’re gonna…make sure that we’re not in a position to see this happen again.” https://t.co/1fI8apsG4Wpic.twitter.com/zbbuVZk1kF
• For the first time in five years, the LGBTQ community not only received full-throated support from the man in the Oval Office, but President Joe Biden, First Lady Dr. Jill Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris all issued video greetings to LGBTQ Americans for Pride Month
• Congress votes to make Pulse Nightclub a national memorial
• Gay men in the UK will have an easier time donating blood
• A bakery in Texas experienced hideous homophobia for saying ‘Happy Pride’ and then the internet stepped in
• Eli Lieb drops the perfect anthem for Pride Month ‘Boys Who Like Boys’
All that and more in this episode of The Randy Report
President Joe Biden issued a statement today marking the 5th anniversary of the Pulse Nightclub shooting on June 12, 2016, that left 49 dead.
He included a call to action asking Congress to pass commonsense gun regulations like universal background checks. A recent Morning Consult poll showed 84% of Americans, including 77% of Republicans, support requiring all gun purchasers to go through a background check.
“Five years ago today in Orlando in the middle of Pride Month, our nation suffered the deadliest attack affecting the LGBTQ+ community in American history, and at the time, the deadliest mass shooting by a single gunman.
“Within minutes, the Pulse nightclub that had long been a place of acceptance and joy turned into a place of unspeakable pain and loss. Forty-nine people were there celebrating Latin night were murdered, even more injured, and countless others scarred forever – the victims were family members, partners and friends, veterans and students, young, Black, Asian and Latino – our fellow Americans.
“A few days later, I traveled with President Obama to pay respects to them and their families, to thank the brave first responders and the community who found strength and compassion in each other, and to pledge that what happened would not be forgotten.
“Over the years, I have stayed in touch with families of the victims and with the survivors who have turned their pain into purpose, and who remind us that we must do more than remember victims of gun violence and all of the survivors, family members, and friends left behind; we must act.
“In the coming days, I will sign a bill designating Pulse Nightclub as a national memorial, enshrining in law what has been true since that terrible day five years ago: Pulse Nightclub is hallowed ground.
“But there is more we must do to address the public health epidemic of gun violence in all of its forms – mass shootings and daily acts of gun violence that don’t make national headlines.
“It is long past time we close the loopholes that allow gun buyers to bypass background checks in this country, and the Senate should start by passing the three House-passed bills which would do exactly that. It is long past time we ban assault weapons and high capacity magazines, establish extreme risk protection orders, also known as “red flag” laws, and eliminate gun manufacturers’ immunity from liability.
“We must also acknowledge gun violence’s particular impact on LGBTQ+ communities across our nation. We must drive out hate and inequities that contribute to the epidemic of violence and murder against transgender women – especially transgender women of color. We must create a world in which our LGBTQ+ young people are loved, accepted, and feel safe in living their truth. And the Senate must swiftly pass the Equality Act, legislation that will ensure LGBTQ+ Americans finally have equal protection under law.
“In the memory of all of those lost at the Pulse nightclub five years ago, let us continue the work to be a nation at our best – one that recognizes and protects the dignity and safety of every American.”
In the five years since the deadly Pulse Nightclub shooting massacre, there have been a LOT of prayers and thoughts sent out for those affected by gun violence.
Unfortunately, that’s close to all we’ve gotten.
In a country that polls show support commonsense gun legislation (background checks, no guns for those on the ‘no-fly’ list) to the tune of almost 90 percent, politicians are still afraid of the 3 million-member National Rifle Association.
Five years ago today, 49 innocent people lost their lives in what was, at the time, the deadliest shooting massacre in the history of the country. Additionally, 53 more were injured.
On that night, a gay nightclub, one of our safe spaces, became a war zone and an emergency room.
One of the most chilling reports to emerge during the aftermath of the attack came from CNN which noted that first responders and investigators had to force themselves to tune out the cacophony of ringing phones coming from the 49 bodies. Clearly, their loved ones were trying to see if they were alright. “All those people, their phones kept ringing,” said the reporter.
I remember that grim detail hitting me like a dagger.
But on October 1, 2017, my town of Las Vegas became the target of the new ‘deadliest’ gun massacre in U.S. history. I was home watching TV with my husband and suddenly my phone began ringing and pinging, over and over. People from all over the country were checking in on me.
I suddenly remembered that CNN report from Pulse Nightclub. And I felt an even deeper visceral chill.
As I reported earlier this week, Congress has approved designating the site of Pulse Nightclub a national monument and President Biden will sign that action into law when he returns from abroad.
Since the Pulse shooting, there have been more mass shootings and more unnecessary deaths.
And still we wait for any meaningful gun legislation.
There will be a streaming remembrance ceremony today at 7 pm ET/4 pm PT. You can watch below via YouTube.
DNC Chair Jaime Harrison, DNC Secretary Jason Rae and DNC LGBTQ Caucus Chair Earl Fowlkes released the following statement:
“Five years ago, our nation wept as 49 lives were taken in a senseless act of violence. We lost siblings and children, cousins and friends. But we turned our mourning into a vibrant movement for reform. Gun safety is an LGBTQ issue, plain and simple. President Biden and Democrats know we must honor those lost at Pulse with action and pass gun safety legislation to finally put an end to mass shootings across our nation.
“We must also finally address the growing epidemic of violence that leaves countless transgender and gender non-conforming people afraid of losing their lives. In 2021, we have already lost 28 transgender and gender non-conforming people, almost entirely transgender women of color, putting us on track for the deadliest year on record. President Biden is committed to ending the violence, achieving equality and protecting the LGBTQ community. Today, we renew our commitment to making possible a world where LGBTQ people, including LGBTQ people of color, are valued, loved and safe.”
Forty-nine people were killed and dozens more injured in the June 12 LGBTQ+ nightclub shooting, which is among the deadliest mass shootings in American history.
A similar bill passed the U.S. House last year but stalled in the Senate. This year’s bill still has to be signed into law by President Joe Biden before the designation becomes official.
The national designation does not incorporate the memorial into the National Park system and it does not require the monument to receive federal funds.
The onePULSE Foundation, a nonprofit founded in the wake of the shooting, plans to build the National Pulse Memorial & Museum in Orlando over the next few years. Preliminary designs for the memorial and museum incorporate the remains of the club into a garden with a reflecting pool and 49 trees, with the open-air museum planned for construction a half-mile away.
Scott Bowman, a spokesman for onePULSE Foundation, issued a statement Wednesday that onePULSE was “thrilled” about the memorial’s national designation.
“The unanimous consent is such welcome news as we are set to mark the five-year remembrance of the Pulse tragedy,” said Bowman. “This recognition from both the House and Senate means so much to the LGBTQ+ community.”
The LGBTQ-themed podcast Lost Spaces, hosted by K Anderson, speaks to a different person each week about a lost queer space from their past, what they got up to there, and how it helped to shape the person they’ve become.
Launched in 2019, Lost Spaces seeks to explore what is lost when queer spaces no longer exist, recognizing their importance in helping people to explore their own identity and develop relationships and a sense of community.
This week Anderson remembers the horrific Pulse Nightclub massacre, the deadliest terrorist attack in the U.S. in over a decade.
Today we are talking about Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida, which on June 12, 2016, became the site of the deadliest terrorist attack in the U.S. since the September 11 attacks of 2001. And, the repercussions were felt worldwide – I remember how shocking and terrifying it was to hear about this happening in a country like America.
But, before it was the sight of this tragedy Pulse was a place where people came to meet likeminded queer folks, dance, be messy and forget their regular lives.
I caught up with leukemia warrior and makeup artist Jared Lipscomb, who grew up in Orlando to talk about body image, first times and why that space will always have a special place in his heart. In lots of ways this is a very serious episode because we’re talking about a horrific incident, but in other ways it’s very joyous as we talk about what made the place special.
• The Gaily Grind: The U.S. House unanimously passed a bill Friday that would establish the Pulse nightclub in Orlando as a national memorial site, four years after a gunman opened fire on hundreds of people inside the club, killing 49 LGBTQ Americans and wounding dozens more.
• Texas Tribune: Gov. Greg Abbott on Friday expressed regret for the first time about the reopening process he spearheaded during the coronavirus pandemic, saying he should not have allowed bars to open as quickly. “If I could go back and redo anything, it probably would have been to slow down the opening of bars, now seeing in the aftermath of how quickly the coronavirus spread in the bar setting,” Abbott said.
• New Music: The late Harry Hains, a compelling musician, actor (best known for American Horror Story, The OA) as well as artist and model, didn’t define himself by the constructs surrounding us, and his concept of ANTIBOY offers a portal into an age of existence where there is complete unparalleled freedom to live without preconceptions and societal labels.
At a time when society is rising up to break down old systems and demanding equality for all, Harry’s personal perspective of the intersection of sexuality, gender, race, and self-expression endures because of its cultural relevance.
• NY Times: In the middle of a world-wide pandemic, the Trump administration asked the Supreme Court late Thursday to overturn the Affordable Care Act — a move that, if successful, would bring a permanent end to the health insurance program popularly known as Obamacare and wipe out coverage for as many as 23 million Americans.
• NPR: Donald Trump’s disapproval numbers are at an all-time high, according to a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll. Trump’s approval rating sits at just 40% overall, while a record 58% disapprove. What’s more, a whopping 49% of voters “strongly disapprove” of the job Trump is doing. That kind of intensity of disapproval is a record never before seen for this president or any past one.
• Twitter: Add another musical group not having Donald Trump use their music at his rallies. Brendon Urie, lead singer for Panic! At The Disco, made it short and sweet in tweeting his disgust at the Trump campaign for using one his band’s song during its MAGA rally in Phoenix this week. “Dear Trump campaign,” Urie wrote on Twitter. “F*ck you. You’re not invited. Stop playing my song. No thanks, Brendon Urie, Panic! At The Disco & company.”
Dear Trump Campaign,
Fuck you. You’re not invited. Stop playing my song.
Brendon Urie, Panic! At The Disco & company.
Over the weekend, two survivors of the deadly Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida, hosted a rally promising ‘deliverance to the LGBTQ community through religion.’
According to the Orlando Sentinel, tens of people gathered at the rainbow amphitheater at Lake Eola Park. Members of the group Changed Movement told the attendees that they have “chosen identity in Christ” over being homosexual.
The rally, which was staged much like a religious service, included testimonials from members who say they left the LGBTQ ‘lifestyle’ after finding religion.
Among them were Luis Javier Ruiz, 36, (above) and Angel Colon, 29, who survived the Pulse massacre on June 12, 2016, which left 49 dead and 53 more injured. Since the deadly shooting, the two say they have become heterosexual through religion.
After healing from their injuries, the two founded Fearless Identity, a religious ministry which, according to the official website, promises to bring “hope and understanding to the LGBTQ community and the church through education, biblical clarity, and support in a judgement free environment for those seeking the option to change.”
The duo promise, however, that the ‘option to change’ is not about so-called conversion therapy.
Ruiz made a point of underscoring that message at the rally on Saturday telling those gathered, “I want to make a public declaration: This is not conversion therapy, this is not electrotherapy, this is not shock therapy.”
“This is all the Holy Spirit, this is the man that died on the cross,” he continued. “This man never cheated on me, never slept with my best friend. He’s the man on the cross.”
I walked by the freedom march today in Orlando, basically an anti-lgbt rally. I just wanted to walk around the lake with my boyfriend only to be reminded that Orlando isn’t safe from gross hatred towards my community pic.twitter.com/ro5Rkyz053
Far from a “Freedom March”, the Religious Right exploited desperate and vulnerable LGBT people to hold a “Fraud March” in Orlando, where these folks renounced their humanity to get a pat on the back from homophobic bigots. Fortunately, the Truth Wins Out.https://t.co/WPgRWTxD5b
Prior to the so-called ‘Freedom March,’ LGBTQ advocates in Orange County called for a statewide ban on conversion therapy.
Brandon Wolf, another survivor of the Pulse Nightclub shooting and an LGBTQ advocate, attended a county commission meeting last week asking his local leaders to “take a stand against conversion therapy.”
And Wayne Besen, of Truth Wins Out, which works to expose conversion therapy and the ‘ex-gay myth,’ interviewed Orlando City Commissioner Patty Sheehan who shared her own painful experience with conversion therapy.
“I knew I was attracted to women, but I thought I could pray the gay away,” said Sheehan, the first openly gay elected official in central Florida.
Sheehan told Besen that, as a teen, she attended a church that promoted ‘ex-gay’ therapy
During meetings with the group, Sheehan was promised that an orange mucous was going to “emanate from me as the demon of homosexuality left my body.”
Sheehan told Truth Wins Out her message to people considering taking part in an ‘ex-gay’ ministry program is to “get some counseling outside of the church and really get a handle on where you are at, because I think they will take advantage of you, they will make you dependent and they will not do what’s in your best interest.”
Two survivors of the Pulse Nightclub mass shooting who say they are no longer gay have been announced to headline an “ex-gay” rally in Orlando, Florida.
Luis Javier Ruiz and Angel Colon will take part in the so-called “Freedom March” scheduled to take place September 14 at Orlando’s Lake Eloa Park, located just minutes from the site of Pulse Nightclub.
As Newsweek reports, organizers of the event say the point of the rally is to celebrate “freedom from homosexual/transgender lifestyles by the grace and power of Jesus Christ.”
The Freedom March organization has held similar events across the U.S. The most recent rally was held in St. Paul, Minnesota, in June 2019.
Both Ruiz and Colon say they no longer identify as gay.
At the Freedom March in Washington, D.C. in May, Ruiz told NBC News, “I don’t want to tell everyone it’s a ‘gay-to-straight’ thing because God is not calling me to that.”
“I feel that I want to live in a life of purity,” he added. “I feel that through loving Christ, he will walk me out of any situation. I love the LGBTQ community, I love my family. There’s no hate here—there’s love.”
During the Pulse massacre, Colon was reportedly shot six times and was trampled by club-goers trying to escape the shooter. It would be two months before he would be able to walk again.
Colon recently appeared on a Christian podcast, The Roys Report, where he told the host the shooting was the impetus for him to renounce homosexuality.
“A couple months before June, I started praying to God and I told him, ‘Lord, You know my situation, You know my heart, You know I want to worship you. But I cannot do it on my own will,” he told host Julie Roys. “Please help me come back to you.”
And according to Colon, on June 12, at 2:02 a.m., “everything just changed in an instant.”
The two men have also founded an organization called ‘Fearless Identity,’ which encourages people to “reject their LGBT identities.” According to Newsweek, forming the group was the mens’ response to backlash for identifying as ex-gay.
Ruiz posted this video to YouTube where he explains being diagnosed as HIV-positive was what pushed him to ‘reject’ being gay.