On Wednesday evening, nearly 200 people from the Cortland community gathered at Courthouse Park for a Remembrance Walk and multi-faith prayer to honor those lost in the Orlando tragedy and show solidarity with the LGBTQ community. The event was organized by the Cortland LGBT Resource Center, which is a division of Family Counseling Services.
Mayor Brian Tobin spoke about the importance of community in times of tragedy. “When we come together as a community and we start thinking about the things we can do, that’s what’s important,” Tobin said. “Even if you did not know somebody, a tragedy of this magnitude, it hits us.
The crowd stood in silence as members of the community took turns reading the names and ages of the 49 victims of the Orlando shooting.
Walkers then headed down Court Street to the Grace and Holy Spirit Church where representatives of the faith community spoke and led the crowd in prayer. Reverend Peter Williams, pastor of Grace and Holy Spirit Church, spoke passionately against senseless gun violence. “Don’t let us be the same after what happened in Orlando,” he emphasized.
The walk continued on to the Cortland LGBT Resource Center. Chelsea Moroski, the Center’s Project Coordinator, talked about the emotions she and others have experienced since the shooting and the overwhelming support from her co-workers, supervisors, directors, community members and everyone in between.
She thanked everyone who came to the walk to support the LGBTQ community and those who were lost in Orlando. “I am moved beyond words,” said Moroski as she fought back tears.
“You are brave for being here today, and you are brave for being who you are every day. Thank you for being you and for loving those around you. This has been a very emotional time for all of us, and unfortunately, this is not the first, nor will it be the last time we lose LGBTQ people to violence. But it is overwhelming to see all of the love and support we have here in Cortland,” she shared.
Afterward, people mingled and enjoyed light refreshments at the LGBT Resource Center. A first time visit for some, a comfortable and familiar setting for others.
“It’s important in small communities like Cortland to be very vocal in showing its solidarity with the LGBTQ community. We are proud to say we are a loving and accepting community,” said Lisa Hoeschele, Executive Director of Family Counseling Services.
This tragedy has deeply affected us all and we thank everyone who was able to join us.