The week after the shooting in Orlando was an emotional one. Going to Chris's funeral was not easy. The church was full of shocked people still struggling to understand what happened. I ran into a few friends from high school and we got to catch up and share memories of Chris.
I have to admit I had some concerns about going. The Westboro Baptist Church had members that were going to picket the funeral. That would never have prevented me from going but it was upsetting to think that anyone would go so far as to disrupt a funeral. When I got out of my car I saw a crowd and prepared for the worst. Luckily, the crowd was actually people from Orlando who were counter protesting the Westboro Baptist Church. They were covered in rainbow colors and had signs spreading messages of love. Some even wore angel wings to block the hateful messages from the funeral goers. Between the large crowd and their singing of Amazing Grace I never saw or heard anyone from the Westboro Baptist Church.
I found out later that there were over 300 counter protesters from the City of Orlando and only four people from the Westboro Baptist Church. Apparently they left after only one hour because they were completely overwhelmed.
The following day the City of Orlando held a vigil at Lake Eola Park.
The crowd beginning to gather.
The memorial at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.
People wrote loving messages in the sand outside the center.
The memorial for Chris and his boyfriend Juan.
In the wake of this whole mess I was immensely proud of my city. We had come together in overwhelming support of each other. As a whole, we had made it clear that we would continue to fight for LGBT rights. This is our City and we will not stand for hate. That left a huge impression on me.
Between loosing Chris, struggling with the funeral and feeling a great since of pride in Orlando, I was a powerful mix of emotions. I decided I wanted to be marked on the outside the way I felt marked on the inside.
The things that stood out to me the most were love, compassion, and the fight for equal rights. I loved the geometric heart design featured on hundreds of shirts around town.
I took my idea to Little Joe's Primrose Tattoo Parlor and they helped me come up with a gorgeous design.
It was so much more than just loosing Chris. It was about the amazing person that he was. The way he fought for others. Spending the day on Amber's couch crying and eating mac and cheese. All the texts and calls I got from friends who were okay. Its about walking to a funeral surrounded by strangers willing to keep you shielded. It's about the way this entire city fights for equality in all its rainbow coated glory. Its working for two jobs and how they both embrace diversity unapologetically. It was about letting yourself hurt so you had the strength to make it better. So the inside can match the outside.