For it’s annual Year In Review issue, The Advocate dedicates the title of “People of the Year” to the heroes of Pulse and features Angel Colon, one of the survivors, on the cover of the December/January issue.
From the issue’s feature article:
Three hours, 13 minutes. That’s how long the Pulse nightclub shooting lasted—from 2:02 a.m., when Orlando police received the first reports of shots fired, to 5:15 a.m., when a SWAT team killed shooter Omar Mateen.
During that time—the time it takes to watch a movie or sit down to dinner—49 people were killed and an additional 53 were injured.
Most of the clubgoers were killed or wounded in the first 20 minutes—including Angel Colon, who was shot multiple times in his leg and side.
“The first shots,” he says, “they were super loud—and super hot. We dropped our drinks, and all we could hear was pop pop pop pop.”
Colon evacuated the club early in the standoff between Mateen and Orlando police—but only after Mateen came out to the dance floor and fired once again on the rows of bodies. Colon called over an officer who was 15 feet away. “Please come get me,” he said.
That night changed not only Colon’s life but the lives of LGBTs everywhere. The survivors of Pulse have become unlikely advocates for a community grappling with this tragedy—the worst single-person mass shooting and the deadliest violent act against LGBT people in U.S. history.
As 2016 ends, the victims of the Pulse shooting face the same danger that faces survivors of every other mass shooting in America: being forgotten. But queer people do not forget. The vigils may wane, the debates may fizzle, the rainbow filters on profile pics may be swapped out, but the survivors of Pulse will not stop fighting for a better, safer community.
Pulse is not a footnote in America’s struggle with gun violence; it’s the opening of a new chapter, one where enters the fire and resolve of the LGBT community. In the past few generations, our communities have galvanized to battle a plague and to secure marriage equality, and fight even now to secure full civil rights—all steps forward that few in earlier generations had expected until they happened.
America will invariably move on to the next gun-related tragedy, but the survivors of Pulse are here. And they will be heard for years to come.