Orlando Vigil, Stonewall Inn

20160613_202206.pngThe West Village streets are packed. After several minutes of squeezing my way through non-existent spaces in the throng, I pop out at the far end of the vigil, on Seventh Ave. across from the Big Gay Ice Cream Shop.

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You can’t see the stage. The speeches on the PA system sound like the squawk of distant seagulls wheeling over an unruly ocean.

The crowd is prickly. They don’t like the speakers, who are too white, too straight, too cisgender. (I know this by following the vigil on Twitter even while I’m at the vigil. And seriously, who thought it was a good idea to give Police Commissioner Bill Bratton a microphone?)

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A chant of “Say their names!” goes up and gets louder, drowning out the speeches. This happens a few times. Then the politicians onstage begin, in fact, reading the names and ages of the dead.

Juan Chevez-Martinez, 25. Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25. Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19.

Most people quiet down but the loudest Say Their Names proponents start arguing amongst themselves about race and gender. They get shushed in their turn by the crowd. The names go on and on.

Luis S. Vielma, 22. Kimberly Morris, 37. Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30.

It is a fractious, uncomfortable, even angry scene. Perhaps I have been secretly hoping for closure. There is no closure here. And that’s okay. Because, really, nothing about any of this is okay.

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