Wednesday, October 5, 2016
October 1, 2016 through January 26, 2017 the Orlando Region History Center presents an exhibit called Pride, Prejudice and Protest: GLBT History in Central Florida. Admission is free on October 8th, the day of the Orlando Come Out with Pride Parade. In the second floor gallery. The history of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender (GLBT) community has been defined by periods of pride, prejudice, and protest. This exhibit from the nonprofit GLBT History Museum of Central Florida shares the progress and setbacks of the Central Florida GLBT community over the past five decades of change.
A rainbow flag circles the room's walls. The stripes are divided into three sections. The bottom section covers the history of blatant prejudice in Orlando's laws and actions. The central two stripes cover moments of protest in the GLBT communities attempts to be accepted with equal rights. The top two stripes cover moments of pride, the victories in the ongoing struggle.
Pamela Schwartz was on a ladder putting up rainbow lettering that said, Central Florida GLBT. The second line got tricky as s tried to figure out the correct spacing. Vinyl letters were on sheets of transfer paper. In theory when the paper w rubbed the letters would transfer to the wall. However the job wasn't as ease as is sounds.
I read one panel which hadn't been mounted on the wall yet. In 1989 Orlando County Sheriff, Walt Gallagher was fired after an investigation found that he was bisexual. Michael Wanzie decided to stage a Rally against Homophobia at the Constitutional Green in downtown Orlando. The Ku Klux Klan staged a counter protest. It took three years of lawsuits for Walt to eventually get his job back. You would be amazed at how many laws existed that limit who you can love.
There is a secton of the exhibit devoted to Pulse memorial items collected from around the city. Photos of each of the 49 victims are mounted behind candles. The museum staff will keep the candles burning for the duration of the exhibit. The flickering lights will illuminate the faces in a warm glow. Colorful scraps of paper each hold messages of love and remembrance. Many letters and notes left at the memorials were never opened or read until they were collected and preserved.
This is an excerpt from one such letter: "None of you know me, but I know you. I know you as one of the 49 people who were killed in the worst mass shooting in US history. Now all I can do is visit this memorial, pray, and write you this letter. A letter no one, but me will ever read, and I can only hope you feel. You were loved. And you didn't deserve this. You deserved to live. To fall in love... I am continuously reminded each day that the world doesn't stop turning. That everyone is still expected to go about their lives. But I can't. I feel so hopeless and helpless just thinking about how hopeless and helpless you must have felt... I feel like a fraud. Like I'm taking away someone who actually knew your grief. But I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you... I'm so sorry we live in a world that let this happen to you. Forgive us. The weather is beautiful. The sun is shining. The birds are chirping and you are here. You are with us all.
All my love, Bri"