Watch: This Orlando survivor is voting for the first time ever, to stand up to hate
A survivor of the Orlando massacre stars in a new ad for LGBT rights group the Human Rights Campaign, explaining why he voting for the first time.
Puerto Rican-born Orlando resident Ricardo Negron-Almodovar survived the horrific attack in the Pulse nightclub in June, when a gunman opened fire, killing 49 people and injuring 53.
On the first day that early voting opens in Florida, Mr Negron-Almodovar spoke out in an ad for HRC, explaining that he will be voting for the first time in his life.
He recalled: “Pulse was the first gay club that I went to here in Orlando. It was back in 2014. From the second that you go into it, you would just feel super welcome.
“At first I heard gunshots, but I thought it was part of the music… but then the music stops and everybody like got on the floor, people started screaming.
“This girl was asking people if they spoke Spanish. She was right next to me and I told her, ‘Yes, I speak Spanish, but ándele, just keep running’, and then we got out to another building that was next door.
“Many of them, immigrants coming here, looking for a better life, only to lose their lives in such a tragic way. But what it brings out, how Latino issues and LGBT issues, they’re issues that affect everybody.
He continues: “This will be my first time voting in a Presidential election. It’s still too important.
“You have to vote. Let your voice be heard. Every issue that we face has a root in the political level.
“So if you do not vote for the politicians that will try to fight for you, then what is it that you’re doing?”
The Presidential hopefuls reacted in markedly different ways in response to the tragedy earlier this year.
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Hillary Clinton paid private visits away from cameras to survivors and victims’ families, before placing flowers at the site of the tragedy, and reaffirming her pledges on LGBT rights.
Donald Trump claimed that if his opponent is elected, gay people will face mass killings. Mr Trump also used the opportunity to declare himself a “real friend” of the “L-G-B-T-Q” community – struggling to read the acronym off a teleprompter – weejs before his campaign’s shift towards a more conservative anti-LGBT stance.
In a bid to attract support from evangelicals, Trump claimed he would “consider” appointing ultra-conservative Supreme Court justices to repeal equal marriage, come out in favour of North Carolina’s anti-trans law, and confirmed he would sign a Republican-backed bill to directly permit religious homophobic discrimination. His running mate Mike Pence has also confirmed their administration would dismantle Barack Obama’s protections for LGBT people.
In a separate ad released this week, Clinton made a direct appeal to the LGBT community. Unlike Mr Trump, who fails to list a single pro-LGBT policy, her campaign has a broad and detailed LGBT manifesto.
She says: “We need to build an America where no one has to worry they can be married on Saturday and be fired on Monday, where kids aren’t bullied just for being who they are, where every American has the chance to live up to his or her God given potential, no matter who they are, or who they love.”