Pulse gay club owner speaks out about why LGBT venues must be protected

Joseph McCormick June 22, 2016
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The owner of the Pulse nightclub, where 49 people died and 53 were injured in a mass shooting, has spoken out to say the venue, and others like it, should be protected.

Barbara Poma, who co-founded the Pulse nightclub in Orlando back in 2004 caught up with Billboard to talk about the fact that the community relies on such venues to provide a safe space for LGBT people.

Of the differences between other venues in Orlando, Poma said: “I think Pulse differs from tourist clubs, as well as other local clubs, for a couple of reasons. One of our biggest goals was to create a warm, welcoming atmosphere that was family-like, with people who shared my vision.”

She also said that tourists, some who weren’t out of the closet, felt they could be safe at Pulse.

“I remember there used to be buses that came from the Disney/tourist area to drop off guests who would then return on their own during their stays. I can’t speak for all of them, but I imagine that LGBTQ people were looking for a place they knew they would be comfortable and free to express themselves. Gay bars are an important part of the gay culture for that very reason.”

Poma also added reasons why people must protect LGBT venues.

She continued: “I can’t tell you how many stories I have read over this week that have told me that Pulse was the first gay bar they ever went to, how they were shaking in fear, how they weren’t out to their families and how Pulse welcomed them. People who aren’t out, people who are exploring, people who are transitioning need a place to do this without judgment, they need acceptance; this is what Pulse was always about.”

49 people were killed and 53 injured on Sunday in the shocking terrorist hate crime attack,which saw a gunman open fire inside The Pulse gay bar in Orlando, Florida.

ISIS has since claimed responsibility for the attack, which was perpetrated by US citizen Omar Mateen. The majority of the victims were Latino.

In a statement, President Obama mourned the victims of the homophobic hate crime attack and called for greater restrictions on arms sales.

In response, Republican nominee Donald Trump said Obama should resign for failing to rally against Islam in his comments.

The attack has been condemned by American Muslim leaders, who addressed ISIS in saying: “You do not speak for us.”

But millions of people around the world have showed solidarity with the victims of the shooting and the community in Orlando,

Earlier this week, a threat was posted to Craigslist in San Diego, praising the shooting in Orlando, and reading: “San Diego, you’re next”.

Two US Marines are also being investigated for posting a photo with an assault rifle with the caption “Coming to a gay bar near you” on Facebook.

More: Orlando Massacre, US

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