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LGBT Group Reaches Out After Gay Nightclub Shooting


And now back to Orlando. Abe Aboraya is a reporter with member station WMFE in Orlando. He's been at the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender community center of Central Florida, where many people have been gathering today. Abe, how are you? Thank you so much for joining us.

ABE ABORAYA, BYLINE: Thank you for having me.

MARTIN: And what have people been saying to you there?

ABORAYA: So this LGBT center, you know, for listeners who obviously aren't going to be aware - this is sort of a community hub for the community in Orlando. And so starting, you know, when I came here early this morning, people were showing up, and they were getting grief counselors ready. You know, some of the people we're talking to - they described, you know, the LGBT community here as very tightknit. And a lot of these people are gathered. They're watching the TV, and they kind of have this sense that it's not if but when - when these names start coming out, you know, they're going to find out, you know, how they're impacted and, you know, who's been impacted by this.

MARTIN: The center had a press conference earlier. Can you talk a little bit about what the people said at that press conference and what the LGBT leaders have been saying? the modality be deleted of and saying?

ABORAYA: Yeah, there were actually calls from the crowd as I was leaving the press conference - you know, the question was asked by someone who was at the center, you know, when are we going to march on Washington? You know, they're taking this as, you know, they don't want this to end here. They're looking at, you know, not just, you know, political reforms for LGBT rights and for gun violence in Tallahassee but nationwide as well.

And, you know, there was actually calls and mentions of how, you know, this is sort of the LGBT community's Charleston. That's how they're viewing this right now, as - you know, as these events kind of unfold and going forward.

MARTIN: Could you talk a little bit more about that? like that? You said that it's time to march on Washington, presumably Tallahassee as well, the Florida state capital. What issues do they feel need to be addressed?

ABORAYA: Well, you know, the folks I'm talking to said that, you know, this has been - there's been a lot of progress when it comes to LGBT issues with marriage equality over the last few years. However, the transgender issues, particularly like the bills in North Carolina with transgender bathroom bills, that's one issue that's come up.

There's also dealing with assault rifles. You know, that was another thing that came up quite consistently at this press conference that, you know, this was a crime of hate. But it was enabled by access to a weapon of that magnitude that was, you know, used to gun down people at a nightclub.

MARTIN: Did members of this community particularly feel targeted?

ABORAYA: Yes. There is no question among the people I'm talking to that this was, you know, targeted at the LGBT community. The club that we're talking about, Pulse - it is a very well-known LGBT club. It's not just well-known among the LGBT community. This is a place where a lot of people will go for bachelorette parties. You know, it's well-known. And, you know, you can't ignore the timing that it is Pride Month, and Orlando is very welcoming, you know, when it comes the Pride Month. You know, a lot of events tied to it. And so there's no question among this community that this was - you know, even without a clear motive or anything, you know, to that effect yet, there's no question that this was targeted at, you know, this community. And also I should mention it was Latino night. So that - there's that aspect to it as well.

MARTIN: And we have about a minute and a half - about a minute and a half left, Abe, so thanks for staying here with us. And we understand that local authorities have asked for no public vigils tonight, citing how how stretched the police force is right now. And I wanted to ask how is that sitting with the people that you've been speaking with? How are they responding to that advice?

ABORAYA: Well, you know, the big rally - you know, the big vigil is going to be, you know, at Lake Eola. It's sort of the center of Orlando. That's coming tomorrow night. They did push that back because, you know, police did ask hey, we need to be focused on, you know, this investigation. And we don't want to stretch manpower.

But I can tell you there will be grassroots events tonight. You know, there will be, you know, perhaps for the sake of physical security, I shouldn't necessarily say where - but there are going to be gatherings that are going to be more grassroots. And a lot of people I'm talking to say they just - they feel like they need to come together and they need to grieve with each other. And, you know, I think that's going to happen regardless. Now, one last quick note...

MARTIN: Very briefly.

ABORAYA: When I was coming in, there were security here at the center. They didn't want me hanging out in front of it. They don't want it to become a target. So there are security fears, though.

MARTIN: That's Abe Aboraya. He's a reporter with member station WMFE in Orlando. Abe, thank you so much for speaking with us.

ABORAYA: Thank you for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Health News Florida reporter Abe Aboraya works for WMFE in Orlando. He started writing for newspapers in high school. After graduating from the University of Central Florida in 2007, he spent a year traveling and working as a freelance reporter for the Seattle Times and the Seattle Weekly, and working for local news websites in the San Francisco Bay area. Most recently Abe worked as a reporter for the Orlando Business Journal. He comes from a family of health care workers.