AN EMOTIONAL candlelit vigil was held to pay tribute to the 49 victims of the horrific Orlando shootings.
About 100 mourners gathered in Portsmouth’s Guildhall Square tonight to hear passionate speeches from speakers including the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, Councillor David Fuller.
A short choral performance of The Parting Glass took place as well before mourners left lit candles on the steps and then respected a minute’s silence.
Andrew Bloomfield, 23, from Fratton, organised the event and said it went ‘extremely well’.
He added: ‘It seems that people from all different communities have gathered here tonight to pay tribute and for me that’s a triumph.
‘It shows that the world’s changed, that we can all come together now united in our grief and sorrow, when 50 years ago, this never would have been allowed to happen.’
We have a long way to go but we will not allow ourselves to be shot or bombed back into the closetSimon Magorian, from Southsea
The massacre came about when terrorist Omar Mateen opened fire in Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, before killing himself.
Memorials and vigils have taken place around the world this week as the shock from the horrific incident still reverberates.
Simon Magorian, from Southsea gave a deeply touching speech at the vigil.
He said on the shootings: ‘I think we are justified to be angry because this keeps happening but we still keep coming back against all odds.
‘We have a long way to go but we will not allow ourselves to be shot or bombed back into the closet.
‘People, now more importantly than ever have got to come together.
‘We must use this as a catalyst to do something after this appalling tragedy.’
Cllr Fuller added: ‘On behalf of the communities of Portsmouth, I would like to express our extreme sadness for the barbaric deaths in Orlando.
‘No-one should have to live their lives in fear and here in Portsmouth we are free to walk the streets safely. It is important for all of us, whatever our sexuality, to stand together and to support love instead of hatred.’
The Big Screen in Guildhall Square played a slideshow of each of the 49 victims along with the hashtag #loveislove during the vigil.
Father Brizz Miles-Knight of the Community Parish of the Holy Angels attended the vigil to offer his support
He said: ‘Here in Portsmouth and around the world, the response to this atrocity has been amazing.