CHEYENNE – Vigils are being planned in several Wyoming cities this week in memory and honor of the victims of Sunday’s mass shooting at an Orlando nightclub.
In Cheyenne, a vigil will be held Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Cheyenne Depot Plaza.
Other vigils and events across the state are being announced as they are finalized.
A vigil in Casper was held Monday night, and a vigil in Laramie is scheduled for today at 7:30 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 1402 E. Gibbon St.
Wyoming Equality Director Jeran Artery said the vigil in Cheyenne will be “a time to remember and celebrate the lives in Orlando.”
Artery said he learned of the Orlando shooting Sunday morning – a sharp contrast to Saturday’s Pride in the Park picnic at Romero Park.
“You never know when you’re going to wake up and turn on the TV and find out the world has changed,” he said. “(Saturday) was a day of joy, and then (Sunday), I couldn’t stop crying when I started watching the stories (of the victims),” Artery said.
Artery said the attack is a reminder of work that needs to be done to combat hatred and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
Wyoming Equality will still have a booth at the Denver Pride festival this weekend and will continue to support LGBTQ events around the state.
“We will continue, and we won’t be intimidated, and we won’t be scared,” Artery said.
The Rev. Audette Fulbright of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Cheyenne said LGBTQ members of her congregation have been emotionally affected by the attack.
Sunday’s service at Fulbright’s church happened to be a “flower communion,” a service that is meant to celebrate the differences and contributions of each member of the church.
That service had a noticeable effect on some members, Fulbright said.
“After the service, one of the LGBTQ members of the congregation was just sitting and shedding a few tears,” she said.
Fulbright said there’s a sense of sadness, and also frustration – feelings that have increased as the details of the shooting have emerged.
She said congregation members emotionally affected by the shooting are dealing with it in different ways, whether by talking to friends and family or planning to attend vigils.
“Those public expressions of grief actually carry more power than you might realize,” she said.
What you can do
Several ways to help in the wake of the Orlando mass killings exist, including:
1) Call LGBTQ friends and family members and let them know you are thinking about them, Fulbright said.
Fulbright said she has had friends tell her that a simple phone call meant a lot.
“Speak to them in person and just say, ‘I’m thinking about you,’” she said. “This is an important moment for reaching out.”
2) While the Orlando Sentinel reported that blood banks in that city were overwhelmed with donors Sunday, more blood donations will be needed later in the week.
But regardless of where a donor lives, blood donation can still be a sign of support.
United Blood Services, a nonprofit operating mostly in the West – including Cheyenne – and parts of the deep South, has issued a call for blood across all areas it services.
While the organization has sent blood to Orlando, organizers are encouraging replenishment of local supplies.
“When tragedy strikes, it’s the blood on the shelves that saves lives,” Justin Irish of United Blood Services said in a press release.
In Cheyenne, the blood center at 112 E. Eighth Ave. is taking donations this week, and appointments are encouraged.
Appointments can be made by calling 877-827-4376 or visiting United Blood Services.
3) A GoFundMe account for monetary donations for Orlando shooting victims has been set up through Equality Florida.
That organization is being assisted by the National Center for Victims of Crime, which helped distribute funds after both the Chattanooga and Aurora shootings.
The address for the GoFundMe account is Pulse Victims Fund.
Following the original publication of this story, other vigils have been set:
In Jackson, a vigil will be held tonight, Tuesday, June 14, at 7 p.m. at the Jackson Town Square.
A vigil will also be held tonight, Tuesday, June 14, at 7 p.m. in Sheridan at the Kendrick Park Band Shell.
Wyoming Equality is posting information on its Facebook page as events are scheduled.