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PrideFest attendees stand in solidarity, refusing to live in fear

Posted at 6:13 PM, Jun 12, 2016

By midmorning the country had learned about the new death doll. At least 50 dead and 53 injured at a gay nightclub in Orlando.

Outside of club Fluid along Milwaukee’s Pridefest parade route, Paul Toonen began setting up candles and flowers for the victim’s.

Individuals in the LGBT community in Milwaukee say the attack happened at a place that is much more than a nightclub. They consider clubs to be community centers, places of empowerment, and civil rights.

“They’ll do public events  and they’ll have local politicians come in,” said Paul Toonen. “So when something like this happens attacks one of our clubs. It affects us worldwide. However, we will get stronger because of this.”

For people of the LGBT community, nightclubs are like community centers and this latest terrorist attack made them a direct target. 

“For my generation, we’ve lived in fear all our lives, whether we’re going to be made fun of on the school bus, at a university or by your own family,” said Fluid owner William Wardlow.

Wardlow says there’s been too much progress to be afraid “now,”  and younger generations need to live "proud."

“I’m not going to live in fear, and so I’m going to open up my doors every day. Have a safe haven for people,” said Wardlow.

At the parade people are out in solidarity, resilient, and refusing to be silenced.

“We’ve come too far in our struggle to give up,” said one Pridefest parade attendee.

“Incidents like this will tell us that again, we need to rally our strength, we need to hug each other, we need to find love in each other,” said Toonen.