Hundreds gather at Grand Rapids’ vigil for Orlando victims

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Hundreds gathered outside The Apartment Lounge in Grand Rapids to honor the people killed and injured in Orlando's terror attack. The crowd lit candles and sung hymns at the vigil.

Edward Ladner said The Apartment Lounge is the state's oldest gay-owned and operated bar, and it brought together a tight-knit community to bolster support.

“It’s a tragic moment for everybody," Ladner, the bar's founder and original owner said.

He added, "We're all a big, one big family."

Earlier in the evening, Ladner and patrons were glued to each television in the room. They were eager to learn the latest about the shooting and the alleged shooter who put all eyes on Orlando.

Bau Van Solkema said, “If it can happen there if it can happen anywhere.”

Now Orlando, the victims, and their families are in everyone's thoughts and prayers.

“It’s a terrifying thing to hear these things happen to people, especially our LGBT community and to happen in a place like Florida where I always thought they were kind of a liberal area. It’s just a tragedy,” Van Solkema said.

Ladner noted, "It's ironic. This week we're mourning and next week we're supposed to be celebrating pride for who we are, what we are."

He was referring to the Pride Fest scheduled for next week in Grand Rapids. He said he suspects the celebratory event will continue without a hitch.

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1 Comment

  • Larry A DeShane Jr

    The Grand Rapids Pride Festival will go on Saturday, June 18th at Calder Plaza. We are working closely with local law enforcement and city officials to ensure that our LGBTQ Pride Festival remains a safe and welcoming celebration for our LGBTQ community and Allies.