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What It Means to OutLove Hate

Civic Warriors Episode 27 with onePULSE Foundation

"Everyone has a PULSE"

Barbara and Scott chat with the Warriors to discuss what it means to be inclusive and where their advocacy of pride comes from. At onePULSE Foundation they continue the legacy for the lost lives taken on June 12, 2016, striving towards common ground, acceptance and healing. We get a glimpse into how PULSE was born, and how immense tragedy shaped and continues to shape not only one community, but rippled throughout the world.

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This podcast was transcribed through a third-party application. Please disregard any misrepresentations.

Brad:
We really appreciate you taking the time to, uh, to chat with us today. Um, you know, we had, uh, we had a very good chat with, uh, Rachel, uh, talking about, and obviously Eric has, has worked with you, uh, now for a little bit. And so, you know, we certainly wanted to share your story, share information about onePulse foundation, as well as kind of, you know, provide additional information that can help, um, you know, help you fulfill your mission. Cause certainly, uh, it is a great one and certainly, um, you know, from everything that we know publicly about the event that occurred and everything that you’ve done since then, uh, you’ve certainly have made an impact and have, are really, you know, driving the local community and the community worldwide, uh, in a positive direction. And you’re really doing a lot. So, you know, thank you so much for being here and, uh, and sharing your time with us. We appreciate it.

Barbara:
No problem. Glad to do it. Thank you for having us.

Brad:
Sure. Um, so I figured maybe we could, um, we could start off maybe, um, if you’d like, uh, you know, Barbara and Scott, maybe share a little bit about yourselves and, um, you know, how you founded the organization, um, some of the events that led up to it as well as, uh, and then we’ll just kind of bring us up to speed and then kind of start the discussion from there, if that makes sense.

Barbara:
Sure. So I’ll do, um, I am Barbara Poma. I am the owner of the Pulse Nightclub. I am the founder of the onePulse Foundation. Um, I’m the most asked question. I think I’ve gotten in four and a half years is how did I wind up as a straight woman owning a gay bar? That was like a big, hot, hot question, I guess, burning question for everybody. Um, the answer is kind of simple, I guess for me, it’s simple for me, it’s my normal. Um, I was lucky enough to be, um, raised with my older brother who happens to be gay. Um, there are five of us kids in the family, but John is my closest sibling to me in age. He is four years older than I, so he was my, um, one of my big brothers, but my closest big brother. And so, um, back in the eighties, when John was coming out, uh, and our family, it did not go very well. It was a very typical coming out story to this crazy Catholic Italian family. And, um, it just, um, it really was a tumultuous time for our family. And so while my parents were trying to, when I say “fix” John, when they were trying to send him to therapists and pastors and all kinds of places to try and, you know, fix him know every time he’d want to leave the house, my mother would always say to him, you know, take your sister because she figured you have to take your sister. Who’s gonna do anything wrong. We got your younger sister with you. Um, she was wrong. John took me everywhere. And John took me to, um, gay beach in south Florida. He took me to the nightclubs. He took me to tea dance on the strip. Um, I grew up dancing with drag Queens, gay men. It was my normal, um, it’s all I knew and I loved it very much. It was tons of fun. No one else. My age was having that kind of fun, you know, especially like 15. Um, I loved it and I did not realize it wasn’t normal till I actually went off to college. When I went to college, I would drag all my girlfriends to the local gay bars here in Orlando. And they’d be like, why are we going there? What kind of places I’m like, oh, you’re gonna have a blast. You’re gonna have the most fun you’ve ever had your whole life. I promise you. And so, um, that’s where I realized that might be a little different. But anyway, um, John also, um, sadly died in the aids epidemic in the early nineties. He was HIV positive as early as 1985, um, died February 13th, 1990, 30 years ago. Believe it or not 30 years this year. Yes, 30 years this year he’s been gone. So he’s just gone longer than he was alive. My brother did not live to his 27th birthday when I lost him. Um, I lost my connection to the community that I grew up in. I, you know, cause you don’t have him, you know who who’s going to do your hair, dress you up and take you out. So, um, it was a hard time for me. I lost my best friend. He was my first best friend. And uh, losing him was very traumatic for me. I’m sure what’s for everybody in my family, but everyone felt a little differently. I think how old they were. So, um, I spent most of my time after that really doing a lot of work in the HIV realm, whether it be in babies who were born at the hospitals and their families left them there, I would hold the babies. And sometimes there’s a foster family that would take the HIV positive babies home and we help them take care of them. I also delivered food and lunches to a lot of the boys who were in the near end stages of HIV and couldn’t leave their houses anymore or wouldn’t leave their houses anymore. You just go sit and have lunch with them, you know, draw the shades, let some light in and hang out for a little while with them. You know, when, when John was sick with HIV was very much for the younger generation who don’t know what it was like, to live through that epidemic. Um, it was very much like the movies you see when the nurses would not go into the rooms and they would not feed them, they would not bathe them. They wouldn’t touch them, they didn’t talk to them. And so, um, you know, we lived through that. Um, I remember the nurse walking in one day, find me laying in bed with my brother. And she’s literally screaming at me, get the bag out of the bed. And I’m like, no, I’m hanging out with my brother. So I’m going to do, I was with John when he took his very last breath, my mother and I was the first time I ever watched someone pass away, take your last breath. So I was 21 years old or so 22 years old at the time. So, you know, I buried John. I buried every single one of his friends and all of them. And it was just a horrific time for the community and it really left a mark on my life. So fast forward a few years, um, my husband, I get married and my husband, I, we, we, we have babies, we’re raising kids at home and I have a friend here in Orlando, you know, cliche as it is the gay best friend who always wanted to own a bar. And he’s like, would you guys ever want to own a bar? And we’re like, no, we knew we owned restaurants, other businesses and properties, we’re business owners. So this is not important to us for we’re hospitality people. And I ran all of those at my husband for years. So my husband was like, what I want to do with a gay bar. And he’s like, ask your wife I bet your wife would do it. And um, so yes. I mean, I’m like, yeah, I’d love to do that. So it became what we call my most expensive hobby because everything we made there, we really put a lot money into it to keep it beautiful. But, um, from inception onePulse was a place that, um, intentionally very intentionally had two main points. One I call our mission and our mission was to be a clean, beautiful face. You’d be proud to bring your mother because the bar’s, my brother grew up in Brooklyn and it was hard. It was really heartbreaking for her. I’d hear her talk to my aunts, her sisters, and she was crying. And she was just, you know, thinking like this is the best time ever to be offered to her son. This is really a seed going to be treated like this his whole life, or he is not mainstream reasons deserve good things and precincts in life. And so that was one of our biggest objectives. Um, and, and sadly, when I had the shooting, we learned, we had been that place because on the night of the shooting, we did lose two moms. Um, we had lost a mom who was dancing with her son and her gay son. And we lost a mom who was out for her first mom’s night out after having her second baby who left to a newborn and a toddler at home without a mom. We also have a mom who survived with her son. Most people don’t also realize that we lost some fathers there that night. There were some dads in that building who left their families, um, fatherless. So it was sad to sad to learn after that. And, um, visually hard thing as a parent to really, um, to, to really experience. One of the second most important things for us to do was to make sure that we, um, we’re always a place where the LGBTQ community was United in its own way, because I don’t know if you’ve traveled to other cities like Chicago, New York, Atlanta, LA, it’s always like, oh, you know, that’s the lesbian bar that’s a twinks bar, that’s a bear bar. That’s, you know, that’s – and it was always really to me segmented. And so I thought to myself, no pulse, wasn’t going to be that way pulses for everyone every single night of the week. And I would get approached by, you know, lesbian to be like, why can’t we have a lady side? I’m like, why can’t you come on Tuesday? Like, oh, you can come any day. I don’t even know there’s girls here. And so, you know, we made sure that we staffed it with girls, boys trans, every color, every race, every size, every shape, every age, when you walked in, you saw someone like you, I didn’t care, or who you were attracted to. So we wanted to make sure there was someone for everyone every night of the week. And, um, it worked, um, people told me it wouldn’t work. I was also the first non-smoking gay bar in Orlando. Everyone told me that wasn’t gonna work either, but I was like, I hate smoke. I don’t want my staff working in smoke every single night. Um, and so we were smoke free cause I put up and we made a patio where people could smoke. That was a, you know, a couple of things that we did that were really different in 2004, that was a very different thing to bring to Orlando. And so that’s how pulse was born and that’s, um, you know, its mission, which, you know, um, like I said, after the shooting, I received thousands and thousands of private messages, not even really, I don’t even know messenger was at the time. Um, cause I’m old. And so I would wake up and have hundreds and thousands of messages either once I didn’t even know existed. Cause they were in that little place where if you’re not your friend, um, and I would read them and I answered every single one of them and it was just story after story, you know, I came out there, I met my wife there. I met my husband there. I wore my first pair of shoes and lashes there. They are, you know, I dance for the first time I came out there, the first gay bar I walked into. And so it was really beautiful to read those stories. It was, it gave me lots of comfort and that’s why I answered every single one of them. Um, but also be sad because the loss, the loss to the community, to loss, everyone was feeling, you know, being Orlando gets 76 million visitors a year. We saw people internationally that came every single year. And we had bartenders who worked on the day. We opened a pulse to the day we closed it. And so they see people on the recognize flight attendants from different places or they’re in town this week or knew who was important. So they just, they knew everybody and they knew what they did. They said, I got people who said, I didn’t care. You know um, how many, you know, I only came twice a year, but when I walked in and Bobby, your Kate had my drink, it was sitting on the bar. They remembered me and they knew what I drank. And so it really became that place. I think the tragedy was extraordinarily, um, monumental for the community, not just here and not just in our country, but around the world because everybody has a pulse. Every person who is, uh, LGBTQ plus has a place where they can tell that story where they came out and where they met someone. How’s that first brave space and first safe space and people now the word safe space has become really cliche. And it bothers me. Yes. I realized that your church should be safe and your school should be safe and all those places should be safe, but that is not what it meant to this community and this community it was a safe haven in a lots of ways where they could just be themselves and it’d be okay. And, um, you know, what happened to pulses? Was it like a home invasion. And it was a home invasion for everybody around the world because they understood what it meant to be in your own safe space like that. And to have that taken from you. So then after the shooting happens, you know, um, I was left to my own accord to figure out what to do. There had never been a terrorist, a terrorist attack or a mass shooting of this size on private property. You think about it, most of them are in schools, federal buildings. I mean, they’re just not usually happening in a private business like this time. It may, sometimes it happens at a Walmart, but that’s also a good corporation. We’re talking small business owner, 49 people were killed there and you had 68 people who were injured and hundreds traumatized. And so this was a, at the time it was, um, hadn’t happened to that scale. And so the FBI literally, you know, they did, they did their job. They came in, they did their job they did everything they had to do, and then they’d just hand you keys. And they say, here you go, miss coma, you know, sign right here. And so I did. And so then I, um, we’ve been inside the building and realize how sacred that space. It become instantly that that was like, it was like just reopened. I’m like, oh, you haven’t been in there. You, you can’t go in there. You know, you don’t, you, you can’t do it. It doesn’t feel like Pule. It’s not Pule anymore. It’s not like that. Just look like that. Does that smell like that? It’s not, it’s not what it is. And so, um, I knew immediately it was sacred ground and it was time to figure out what to do next. And so with that, I really, um, uh, paired up with actually one of the, one of our victim’s moms, our local curator here in Orlando for our history center and artists and I called Oklahoma city and I said, hi, my name is Barbara Poma and the owner of Pulse nightclub, can you help me? And they’re like, absolutely, hold on. And so I talked, spoke to Carrie Watkins and she, we flew out there. We sat down with her team. Um, maybe we just give ring questions and we did got home. We regrouped and I made the same phone call nine 11, just literally, you know, it’s just, I’m like, how do I get a human on the phone? And I just, and I just did. And so they said come and we went. And so that’s how the journey began. And since then, you know, we have formed a, we have a task force, which is full of our families, survivors, first responders and all of those are local community who wants to be involved in the project. And then we built a national board, which spans everywhere from New York to California states in between. And we realized that we wanted to embark on this journey of creating a national Memorial museum dedicated to what happened there, but also to LGBTQ history and to find, and to the response from the world and what we can do next. Like how do you think what happened here and make something beautiful out of it? Because I know the majority of the families feel that way. I know our community feels that way because right now we know when we first started the project, the first thing that both 9/11 and Oklahoma told me to do was to create a public survey. And so we built an online survey. We had local experts in Orlando who dedicated their time to creating it. Um, and so we put it out there. We had over 2100 people, uh, participate in it. We get families and survivors and first responders and every single one of them had their own codes. So those, those results were kept separate from the general public and from each other. So we knew exactly what each demographic, um, or general had, you know, how they felt about it. And so out of all the questions that were asked, the one that resonates and, um, and this will help you understand all the memorials you’ll visit in your lifetime. If you do that. Cause I’ve been on a tour for years and see almost everyone in our country, um, is that it’s a list of words and feelings. And so you’re able to listen to them and you pick your top six. And so when, when the people in New York city did theirs, their six words were like, um, loss, sorrow, anger, um, sadness. Like I should can’t think that they were all very dark and harrowing words. There was no, there was just, it was just awful. It was like this sense of emptiness. And so when you visit 9/11, you will find those two holes in the ground that make you feel all those things that intentional, that was those words were given to their designers. And those designers designed a Memorial that would make you feel that way. And so when Orlando, when we did ours, our six words were love, hope, unity, courage, acceptance, and strength. Our families don’t want you to be sad there. They didn’t want, they won’t be able to come and see what happened. They want their children remembered. They want never to be forgotten, but they want to drink. They want you to bring your families. They want people to come here and they said, we don’t want it to be a sad place. So that’s how our design is set. And so after this work of this board and this task force have done for four years is phenomenal. Like I said, we have traveled the country, um, visiting every Memorial. And we’ve seen whether it be even the news, lynching Memorial museum in Montgomery, Alabama, we’ve been every place in DC. We’ve been to Shanksville, we’ve been to the Pentagon and we have just, we’ve done that. We’ve done the roundup around the country and done our homework. And we learned there every time we went, it was always a consecutive trip where we just sat down with people and we learned what they did well and what they would do differently. And so we’ve taken all of that back home with us. And that’s how we got, you know, we led to this RFQ process of picking a design team. And so last year, so before COVID, so maybe two years now, I don’t remember. I don’t know what year, any more, but we launched, we launched the design process, design RFQ, and we received, um, proposals from 68 teams from 19 different countries around the world. And so we had to narrow that down to six. And so those six, um, came, you know, built models and came to Orlando to presentation. Family spent everything, his family first for the foundation. If you don’t know that family first is in survivors and first responders in general public. So the families got to spend a whole day in the, in that room with the six models, reading everything and putting all their comments down survivors and family members. And first responders did it. And then the community came and we know over 2000 comments on each one of those things and then a jury packed. And so our final selection, which you can see on the website, of course, it’s beautiful. It’s from a team from Paris. Um, we work with, and so we are in the design phase, uh, we’ve been working this year, literally, you know, it was actually a good year for COVID, I guess for us, because let us time to actually go into design requirements, which take a year. And so we have been working on that and now we are, um, hopefully going to break ground for the survivor’s walk and the Memorial this year, by the end of the year that she will break ground on those two projects. And we’re excited about that. And the museum we’ll break ground next year. All those as well is the plan. I’ll let Scott talk or give you myself a break, carry me, ask questions. I could start there. There really is so much to tell you about what we’re doing and where we’re going. So –

Scott:
Yeah, and I, I was fortunate. I’m the chief communications officer for the foundation. I have lived in Orlando since 1993 and, uh, had the privilege of working and opening to other projects that were pretty major, which was working with the Orlando magic for 12 years and opening the Amway center and then opening Dr. Phillips center as well. And I actually was working at Dr. Phillips center when the tragedy happened. And as you all know that our front yard, Dr. Phillips center became a gathering place for everyone other than Pulse itself, uh, at the Memorial. So we, we were in tune with it every day, too, in terms of the, you know, the way the global community came together to, um, pay their respects to what happened. So, uh, have been in Orlando, I’ve always worked in community relations, public relations, and obviously had felt the impact of the tragedy, just like the rest of the city in the world. I had moved away for a couple of years and decided to come back, um, 2019 and a friend of mine who is actually on the board for onePulse Foundation mentioned that they were looking for a communications person. I had worked with our COO who reports to Barbara at the Dr. Phillips center as well. So it just became one of those things where you can’t ignore the signs. And it was something that I really personally, as a member of the LGBTQ community, it was very important to me. And that’s a project of the heart for me. And once I met Barbara and, uh, she kind of laid out her vision and the mission of the organization, everything, I knew that I had to be a part of it. So my job really moving forward and for the last year is putting together the communication structure for internal communications and external communications, working with the media, uh, Nicole Parker, who works with me is, uh, the direct link to all the stakeholders that Barbara mentioned earlier. So she works every day in the interest of our family members, our survivors, and our first responders. And as Barbara said, we have a rule here that they, they get to know everything before anyone else. So anytime we, um, launch a new program or, um, have even just something like Outlove Hate that we recently launched, or just different events that we’re doing, we audit all of our financials. Um, we present it to them first. And as Barbara said, even through the design competition, they saw everything first day were the first to get feedback. We were able to extract all their feedback, keep it separate from the general community of those 2200 responses. So our goal is that they never are surprised by anything, right? But they, they hear and see and touch and feel everything that we’re doing every step of the way of this project until, and even after we opened and we’re operating, you know, their opinions are very important to us. And in the last year, we’ve been able to do a lot of listening sessions with them as well on what they want the storytelling opportunities to be, especially in the museum and even at the Memorial and the survivors walk. And it’s just been a great, great, um, to, to do, I mean, so if you can, all the family members, all the survivors, but also, you know, please fire 9 1 1, you know, uh, one blood, everyone that was part of the response. Um, we’ve been doing listening sessions with them as well, just to see what they really what’s important to them as this project moves forward.

Erik:
Yeah. It was always a pretty inspirational when we, when we started working together, um, to see that the families are incredibly so involved, um, from as something that many people would view as really not, you know, not part of the mission and, you know, the audit or the, you know, the 990, but giving them the input on something that becomes public record and make sure that, you know, they give their blessing and can share their story in their and their beliefs along with, you know, some of the scholarship, you know, promotions that you’re putting on now for those families. It’s, it’s pretty incredible to keep them involved, you know, to this point

Scott:
Really important. And then you mentioned the 49 legacy scholarships. That’s the other, you know, from an education standpoint is working with the families to name those scholarships and define what they are. And it’s probably, for me personally, it’s one of the best things I think the foundation does. And it really connects students, both undergraduate students, graduate students with the family members. And it continues the legacy every year, maybe with different students every year, um, for the 49. And it’s, to me, one of the best things that happened here,

Barbara:
The families loved it. It was a way that they, you know, they had said to me, I don’t want my child’s name just to be on a wall, or you read it once a year on June 12th, they can abide, they had jobs. They had, you know, hobbies and aspirations. So how can we make them live on now? Well, this is the only way I can think of it. And so when we people thought I was crazy, but I used to know each one of the scholarships has to be designated to that person specifically. And so we have a cosmetology, um, scholarships, and we do medical school and ophthalmology like it’s everywhere. And people are like, you can’t do 49 different ones. I’m like, we don’t have a choice. So you need to figure it out because that’s how school it’s going to go. Otherwise it means nothing. And the families last year. I mean, they, some of them got to meet the, the recipients of the scholarships. Um, every, every recipient knows which angel they are tied to, they know their story. Um, it is truly so moving to see and to be part of this process. And, um, yeah, it has,

Scott:
I mean, because of COVID last year, Barbara got to call every single one of those recipients and tell them what their award recipient was. You know, so some of the con conversations were amazing. Connecting the families were amazing to the students. And we’re about to do it again with the second class here at the end of April.

Barbara:
Figure that out. That’s what I do all day, but it really is the best thing.

Ashley:
Yeah. That’s amazing. You just have a whole community of people who are, and you started, you were a family member of somebody who part of that community and that now has transpired. I’m sure you look back and it has to be overwhelming and thrilling and exciting just what you’ve built and how far it’s come. And even though something tragic has happened, like that community still stood strong and has I’m sure gotten even stronger because of onePulse and now, you know, onePulse foundation and everything you’re doing.

Barbara:
I hope so for me, it’s um, this work is, it’s what got me out of bed the first year, every single day, how are you doing? I’m like, if I don’t do this, as soon as I don’t, I don’t have a reason to get up and get out. And if I don’t have a mission to do something, you know, it’s, it’s really what it’s fired me to keep moving forward. Um, it’s what I, it’s truly what I do. I have done every single day since the shooting. And, um, you know, other people who, um, were, you know, it was the frontline at the time, but, you know, they all moved on, not moved on, but they went back to their old jobs or doing something else. Or for me, I still do calls every day. Um, it’s still, it’s still what I do. And that’s, um, let me put in perspective like that, some people are like, oh, ouch. I’m like, yeah. You know, it’s where we deal with the families. And we know if we talked to a dad today, you know, and so it’s, um, it’s difficult work, but it’s rewarding because you, I don’t know, just staying connected to them, the families and stuff.

Scott:
And the thing you learned through this process, even through the listening sessions is everyone, you know, here we are in the five-year remembrance ceremony coming up this June and everyone is, there’s still in different places. You know, you can’t define grief. You can’t define a timeline for grief. And although there are countless stories of resiliency with the family members and the survivors, and obviously the first responders who went right back to their jobs. Um, they’re, you know, we’re reminded every day that maybe today wasn’t the day I wanted to open the email, but I, you know, tomorrow we talked to them and they open the email and they’re like, we’re so glad we did. Right. And you can’t, uh, you can’t put a timeline on it. And so what we found is you have to work with people where they’re at and meet them there, where they’re at, and it’s not one size fits all at all at all. And so, you know, and I’m sure every, every organization that went through something like this, they had the same thing. It’s not unique to us by any means, but you just really have to learn how to be flexible and adaptable and, and work with everyone where they are at that day through a process like this.

Brad:
Yeah. How do you feel, um, you know, since, since, um, you know, the event that took place, the shooting, um, how do you feel the LGBTQ community has, I guess, changed and, and, you know, moved to moved forward from there. And I guess, what have you learned, um, Barbara, I guess, in your, in your conversations and working with individuals about, um, you know, what’s, what’s transpired how it’s happened and, and really how the community, as you said, banded together, but how has it evolved or what have you learned in the, in the experience of, of, um, you know, working with many of the families, um, over time? I mean, I’m sure there’s a lot of lessons you’ve learned the world has started to open their eyes more and more. We’re becoming a much more accepting world, which is obviously a positive. Um, but do you feel that there’s, there has been a big change or do you feel that, um, you know, the world still has a long, a long way to go? And I know I just asked a very long strange question, but.

Barbara:
No, I don’t. And I think that, um, you know, I’m, I can only talk about what I’ve seen and who I’ve spoken to. I don’t live like I’m not an LGBT, I mean, I’m an ally, so I don’t, I’m not part of the community. I don’t know what it’s like for a person to walk those shoes every day. Um, I could tell you that there were moments, especially during the, um, political climate that were frightening. Um, you know, I found that there were people in the last four and a half years in the LGBT community who will still say, I still can’t go into a bar, or even I go anywhere I’m checking for exits. Um, but you know, you do see movement. I can tell you that our community is forever changed. We’ve had, we’ve met with face leaders who had changes of heart. We know we’ve, I’ve met families. Remember there were some families who found out their child was gay and dead in the same sentence. And so they, you know, had to go through a lot. And then there’s people who, you know, there are families who, whether it’s through their culture or just lack of understanding, didn’t know at the time, or wasn’t willing to accept. And it has come full circle. You have family members now who are willing to talk to other people who are having struggles coming out to talk to them, talk them off the ledge. I mean, so I know that there’s a lot happening here, Orlando and I, and I do know when I talk to them from different MetAware, no matter where I go, which is not very much this last year, but wherever I speak to wherever I do go, they’ll tell me, everyone tells you their whole story. I remember I remember where I was when I heard the news. It was the day before our pride. It was this, I mean, and everyone will walk me through their story. And I watched them walk me through their story and you could see it in their face. You would see it. And it’s like, that’s how I know that this is what happened. There needs to be remembered. It needs to be recorded. And it needs to be here for generations to come because the effect globally has been just so profound. And I don’t think I answered your question, but it’s hard for you as that question is so broad.

Brad:
Too broad. Yeah. Too broad. Um, I’m on the, on the night of the shooting. And, um, I don’t know, I don’t remember this discuss, but do you remember where you were? Were you physically there when that occurred?

Barbara:
No, I was out of the country. I was actually in Mexico with my daughter who had just graduated high school. Um, we were on a mother daughter graduation trip. And so we were there with her two best friends and their mothers when the fun, the phone call came in and my husband was out of town with my son at, uh, like my other child was at a lacrosse tournament out of town. So neither one of us were here. Just my eldest daughter who have to be visiting from Chicago was at the house.

Erik:
Barbara, you know, through our talks and through, you know, all the, you know, the news stories over the years, it’s first responders have been, they’re a big part of this story. And I think for some of the people outside of our, our circle of our community really didn’t, don’t have that idea of really how strong and, and how that’s moved into the miracle walk and kind of played its role in, in, you know, the, the Memorial going forward. You want to explain kind of, you know, what their role was in the whole, you know, you know, the, the shooting and how they came to be and how they molded what we’re doing now or what, what the Foundation is doing now.

Barbara:
Um, you mean first responders like the SWAT team and OPD and the Sheriff’s office,

Erik:
As well as, uh, as well as RMCs, you know, roll in.

Barbara:
Well, gosh, does that mean Orlando health has been a partner from day one? Um, you know, they’ve been, they were one of our very first, um, largest donors who named the survivor walk. They understand that with this survivor walk has meant to do, which is the journey from Pulse nightclub to the doors of the level one trauma center at Orlando health. Um, it means a lot to their team, to their doctors and nurses. And I’m a one college, anybody who helped anybody out there, anyone, because there were people who had to clean those rooms up and people had to notify families. So everybody who worked at night or during that shift. Um, and so we talk about that the survivor journey from pulse to that trauma center, some ran, some are carried, some are tossed in the back cars there weren’t there weren’t, you know, 68 ambulances. And so, um, Orlando health has been a huge partner in helping us create, you know, help, you know, be a part of the foundation, but also in that journey of what that loss looks like, and that’s the wall we’ll break ground this year. It tells a story of the survivors. It tells the stories of all the first responders. So Emily, we talk about the police and the fire and the SWAT. I mean, I remember, and I still see so many of them. Um, and they wanna tell you their story too. You’re like, I was the one who was here. I’ve been on this side of the building. I did this, I was there. I came in at two o’clock. I was on, I was on call. I was at home and they want to, they really want to share their stories. And, um, those are hard stories by the way. Um, and it’s amazing to see them want to share them in ways they do. And, um, I remember a couple of really moving stories when someone, you know, really, I mean, as you would imagine for a responder thicker guy, very straight, you know, um, and said, you know, I was pulling people out of the building, you know, I try to get them out to rescue them. And they were like, were like an underwear. They were dancers. They didn’t have any clothes on. Like he was like, and he just would look at them and take them and hold them. And so w would you like my jacket? And he said to me was, you know, I just wanted to rescue them. And I didn’t for one second, they gaining different and how it changed their lives that moment last year, when we were not allowed to have the ceremony in person, um, there happens to be a organic 2 0 2 in the morning gathering that just kind of habit. You never know who’s going to show up. And, um, last year we had a record number of responders.

Scott:
It was amazing. It’s amazing how many people were there. That was the first time I’ve been there, two, a two, and I could not believe how many people were there, how many first responders. It was amazing. It was very emotional. And to Barbara’s point, too, you know, in our most recent listening sessions, we’ve done with first responders, you hear those stories and it changed them. How could it not change them? And they just felt like, you know, even people who weren’t on duty that night came in, like everyone came in to help because everyone wanted to, you know, help as much as they could. It didn’t matter who they worked for, what, what division they were in. People just came to help because they knew help was needed.

Erik:
It’s always an incredible, at the same time that you can see what divides communities on a day-to-day basis when you can come together and seem to forget your, your prejudices, you know, before that morning, you waking up, have gone away when, when you, when you’re needed. And you know, it really shows you that, you know, we can get there, you know, we’re, we still got somewhere to go, but you know, those moments, you can see that, you know, it’s possible. And, you know, it’s just one of those incredible things that happens out of a wake of, of these disasters. Um, you know, so we’re, we’re two months off, you know, from, from the anniversary and, and you guys, we know you’re planning a ton of stuff, um, kind of an exciting time, and we’ve spoken to Rachel and she’s given us, you know, uh, loads of, of, uh, of the excitement that’s coming this way. And you guys are really busy. Do you want to, you want to highlight some of those, some of those things I know we’ve, you’ve molded certainly on your groups of, you know, how you’re going to have your rally and so on

Scott:
Virtually. And we, we had the remembrance ceremony first, the run second, uh, because of, um, of the pandemic, but the, one of the interesting things that we learned from that, and I’ll just every year when we, before COVID, we would do the remembrance ceremony. And just because of the size of the footprint of the land there, and, and the property, you can probably best get 3000 people there during the ceremony. So last year when we had to do it all virtually, and we pre-taped, it, the most interesting thing happened, we had 60,000 people watch the ceremony and that to us was okay. We do, you know, you’re just reminded of that global again, that global, um, just everyone wants to still feel part of it and the connectivity of it because of what Barbara said earlier, because there’s a policy in every city, right? And we hear that from a lot of the global pride organizations as well. And then when we did our run last year, we had registered runners from every state in the United States, but also registered runners and 15 countries and territory. So again, that reminder of the global presence. So this year being the five-year remembrance, we knew that a lot of people would want to come back. A lot of people would want to come back, even media to say, okay, how how’s the community doing? How’s the community healed? Where are we now? Those kinds of themes. And we fully expected that. So what we’re planning now is a, a whole remembrance week that we’ll start Saturday, June 5th, with our community rainbow run. And we are very happy to report that our community rainbow run will be in-person this year. And we also are going to continue the virtual component because we’ve had that every year, honestly, since the beginning, uh, when the, when the run started. So we’ll have a way view park at seven in the morning, again, on, on Saturday, June 5th, um, in-person but also doing it virtually. And then our goal, because we’re competitive group is to have, um, registered runners from every state and more than 15 countries this year, when we realized that last year, I think we were for five states out. And we just, we literally got to get these by states and we ended up doing it. So this year, June that start with Saturday, Sunday night, we are going to do an event at house on church street, which is straight men, real makeup. And it’s a fundraiser for the foundation, or basically straight men get dressed up in drag. And we have actual drag Queens, uh, on the judging panel. And it’s a really fun night. Yeah, it’s a fun night. So that’ll be seven, six o’clock on Sunday night. And then Monday we’re doing an interfaith service with the one Orlando Alliance at, um, the United Methodist church downtown here in Orlando. And that’ll be at 7:00 PM Tuesday. We’re working right now with the Orlando gay chorus on a presentation that will be both music set to photos from JD Castro. Who’s a local photographer here with a lot of images of, again, how not only the city came together, but how the world came together. After the tragedy Wednesday, uh, our central Florida foundation, they do quarterly community conversations, verge, virtually, and, uh, think about 500 people can get on those conversations. So Wednesday that week at one o’clock to two, we will be doing a community conversation around our five-year remembrance with, uh, hopefully 500 people, which we’re, we’re really excited to have that opportunity as well. Thursday night, we’re back down on church street house, and our friend blue is going to do, uh, hopefully with hamburger Mary to that night. But we’re kind of bringing back that theme. If you all remember kind of happened organically, um, keep dancing Orlando after the tragedy happened, kind of along that theme, but kind of a celebration that night about the music and bringing people together and just some comradery that night, um, that Thursday night and then Friday, um, we’ll be doing a, uh, luncheon kind of a barbecue for our first responders. And we also will be doing a dinner for our survivors. And that date has not been selected yet. We’re still working on that, but we’ve had some gracious people in the community come together with offering food for all of these. And then Saturday, we get to the ringing of the 49 bells, which is a global Nash, definitely national, but even global at noon on Saturday. And the ringing, the bells, 49 times, we do a meal for our families right before the ceremony. And then we do the ceremony at 7:00 PM. So we’re going to be able to have this year, the families, first responders and survivors at the location of the inner Memorial, plus our speakers. We’re going to be able to do that again, live this year, and we’ll have a satellite location for the general public at Dr. Phillips center and where they do the front yard festival, because we know people are going to want to come and be a part of it, but we’re also having to follow what COVID guidelines we have currently. There’s a lot of opportunities for people to be involved. However they want to be involved. There’s actually some other events that we’re still working on, that, that aren’t on the calendar yet. Um, Orlando city soccer will be doing a pride game on their MLS schedule is released and, you know, going to invite, they’re going to invite to the families and first responders and survivors to be their guests at the game. We’ll be doing some special promotions during the game. And, um, the history center will be doing its five-year, uh, policy exhibit as well, which we’ll actually start in may. But the interesting thing is, and the funding for us is during the week of our remembrance, they’re going to open up and make it free for the public to come and see it that week. And there’s more to come and we’re going to publish probably in about two weeks, the full calendar, because there is so much, but we also wanted to be really mindful. We didn’t want to put any additional stress on anyone like the families or survivors first responders. So we really tried to do maybe one thing, one major event or remembrance each day or that week. So people felt like they could get to everything if they wanted to and not, you know, not feeling like everything was just going to be on the 12th as well.

Brad:
I, I love how involved, um, you have everybody in, uh, in all of these events. I like how you’re approaching it, that you want to be mindful of how they’re going to be involved. I mean, I’m a, I’m a first responder in my own town and I know that anytime, anything like that happens, I would want to be involved in my own community. But at the same token, I probably wouldn’t want anyone to know that I was involved to a degree and not, not for any reason other than I just don’t. I don’t want to feel special. You know, I don’t, I don’t want to be like, oh, I didn’t anything. So even though, even though, you know, you’re there, you’re doing all this, you know, you’re doing a lot of things to help your community the night of that event, you know, but then again, like you don’t want to, you don’t want to take away any of the recognition from those that were directly impacted, you know, you’re there on the periphery as a first responder helping. But sometimes I know in my own brotherhood of the firehouse, I’m a part of, it’s like, you know, we don’t, we don’t want a camera on us. We just, we want to go do our job and then go, right, we’ll go talk about it and having a beer. And we love doing that and I want to be around all the people, but –

Scott:
Yeah, that’s exactly what we heard. What would you guys like to do if we could do an event just for you and that’s the barbecue is the answer.

Speaker 2:
Just make sure there’s food and beer.

Scott:
Everyone felt like that was a really nice way to come together. And some of them, you know, believe it or not, haven’t seen each other since the tragedy too, because people came from everywhere and some have, and some don’t each other as much as they want to see each other. So we will leave that it’ll be a mixed way for them just to kind of get back together and remember, and we can, we can honor them just from our staff as well.

Brad:
Yeah. I, I love, I just love how thoughtful you are about, about every very, very intentional about every move you make, you know, from surveying everybody, to having everybody involved in major decisions. I mean, that, that is what’s going to make you successful. And I love hearing it just in my own personal right in what I do. And as well as just, just knowing the impact you’re having, I mean, that’s phenomenal,

Barbara:
This project is for the community. It is for the world. It’s not, you know, for us, so we, we’re not, you know, we need everyone’s input for everything to get done.

Scott:
And you know, the way it changed our city forever, I believe people feel an ownership with it and to it, you know, because I’m sure even if they weren’t directly impacted by it, they still were impacted, you know, just being, living here and working here. So people feel a great deal of ownership to it. And we, we recognize that and everything we do, we always, always every major thing that we do make sure that not only it’s the family survivors first responders, but then going to the general public too, to get everyone’s feedback, we do listening sessions. We do, um, I think early on you, you did at all the libraries, uh, conversations, and we try to do that. And then we do online surveys as well for people who don’t live here. So we can get feedback beyond Orlando as well.

Speaker 4:
One of the things that I forgot to mention that we’re doing, it’s an easier way people don’t live here, especially to get involved with the remembrance day is we’re going to do a video and ask people how they, why they think it’s important, never to forget this day. And, uh, you know, it gives us an opportunity that someone can upload a video, you know, two minutes or less, and just share kind of what Barbara said early, where were you on that day? Whatever’s meaningful to them as an individual, just sharing with us why they feel like this, you know, June 12th should never be forgotten.

Brad:
Right. That’s a great idea. How do you go about when you, um, you know, outside of your direct, um, local Orlando community, how do you about connecting? I know you mentioned that you were trying to connect with all the individuals from all 50 states participate, uh, all around the world, 15 different countries. You mentioned, how do you go about connecting? Like I live up in New Jersey, how do you go back connecting with, with different, different folks all over to, to be a part of it? Uh, if they’re not physically, physically there,

Scott:
Some of the easier ways, which again, I’m so surprised to see some of it, but, um, we keep in contact with a lot of the local pride groups that, uh, run the individual prides across the country and even beyond, you know, uh, in Europe as well and other places beyond the states. And especially this year, they all, uh, have been contacting us. We’ve been, we’ve been doing countless meetings to see how we can be a part of their pride celebrations and that’s happened for years as well. Um, and how they can be a part of what we’re doing and to keep that connectivity happening there. The other thing is, I think it just, honestly, it goes back to what we talked about, the global interest in and feeling a part of this. We, we, we do a lot of proactive communications and reaching out to people, but we also would just receive a lot of people come to us and they, how can we be involved? What can we do? How can we volunteer? Um, how can we be involved virtually with things that you’re doing? We have, uh, survivors and family members all across the country as well. They’re not just here in Orlando. We have people in Puerto Rico, um, and other places. So, you know, wherever they are, they carry the story with them to those communities too. And as Barbara said, there’s so many people that have a story that connects them in a pulse from going there even before, prior to the tragedy. So there’s just, it’s almost organic and natural as well. Plus the other thing for us is through, um, partnerships and sponsorships and our board being such a national board. There are a lot of global companies wanting to be a part of what we’re doing as well. So then say we get involved with the company and then they have an employee resource group already RD, and there’s an LGBT group within that. And they want to be a part of what we’re doing. So it just, it’s almost like a domino effect. Right. And, um, it really it’s strong. I I’m amazed at how strong it is and then even our social media reach. And when we look at, you know, do some listening there and see who’s following us both not only on the onePulse foundation channels, but the Pulse Nightclub channels as well. It’s, again, it’s, it’s national and it’s global and people really have an interest, especially I think as we’ve prepped them, the five-year remembrance is a milestone. If you go five year, 10 year, 15 year, people want to come back. They want to see how everyone is doing. It’s, it’s, uh, it’s a big milestone.

Erik:
So, you know, obviously the, the mission and the purpose is without question, you know, strong and, and gravitating it pulls in, but, you know, every organization needs help from, you know, some popularity. Um, you know, I, you know, personally, we, you, on your board, there’s some local celebrities that we could name, you know, that had national, you know, boy band cross the country back in their days. But, um, tell us about what you just brought on recently. That’s, uh, that, you know, it’s gonna help you internationally. That’s an exciting story, right?

Scott:
Sure. Oh gosh, phenomenal. And, you know, we, when we were about to launch our outlook hate campaign, even prior to that, we were talking about the opportunity to have national spokespeople plural, because there’s a project taking over three years to get from construction, to finish an opening. And we had learned from some other communities and other projects that people had done that prior to us. So we had probably put down our list of top 10 and Ricky was always at the top of that list. And he happened to be here. I think in November of last year, it was right before the elections. I think he was here and came to the anemone Memorial and Barbara had a chance to go there and meet with them and, and, um, talk to them and kind of tour him through the Memorial. And I think it just, it aligns with his own personal beliefs and things that he feels that are important. Uh, we were given the name of his manager and, uh, we did a follow up meeting and she couldn’t have been lovelier. And it’s been one of those things where we just kind of gave our mission, our vision and said, here’s where we want to go with this. We want to launch this campaign called out love, hate, and February Valentine day. And it gives everyone an opportunity to be part of the permanent museum for $49. And then we’re also going to be build a community of love at the same time. And they were in, I mean, it was one of the right, one of the fact conversations ever read and they’ve been that way ever since. And we, you know, our goal is to, um, play to his strengths and play to his team’s strength. They already done weekly social media posts for us. They’ve got some surprises coming up in the next few months that we’re working on with them and he wants to use his platform to help us reach more people to your point, which is great because he’s global, he’s global. And we, uh, we’re excited because he he’s got, if, if all goes well with recovery, with COVID and vaccinations and everything, he’s supposed to start a tour, uh, this fall and he’ll be here in Orlando in October. So, um, there are a dream team to work with and, uh, we’re, we’re really excited about it. We also have lists of other people that we’ve contacted. We’re in conversations with a few others right now, and hopefully we’ll be making some announcements in the, in the near future. And we’ve been really fortunate to see a lot of, um, influencers join our outlet hate campaign as well, just last week, um, Richard Branson. And so Richard Branson joined us and some of them, some of the people, yeah, which was huge because he is one of the largest, uh, Twitter and LinkedIn following her following. And there’s others that have joined as well. The great thing about it when you go on out love, hate.com right now, and look at the diversity of the people who are on there. It’s, it’s everything we would hope it would be. It’s, it’s an age and demographics and backgrounds and people are putting photos of their families on there and their loved ones and their pets. And it’s, uh, it’s a great thing to see, and we’re really excited about it. And as we, uh, make more people aware of it.

Barbara:
And if you don’t know what its purpose is not just a fundraising campaign, but when we, when we set out to do this project, you know, there there’s always that wall when you’re welcome to any museum or any large institution as the donors, founding donors. And so to get on that wall, you know, you have to write a big check and most people can’t do that. I mean, and so we know that there is this huge community around the world and in our country. So this project means a lot to me. Like this means a lot to me, how can I be a part of this project? I want my name on this. And so this campaign allows that because when you, when you upload your picture and you make your $49 donation, your picture becomes part of this digital mural. That’s going to live in the museum. So you walk in, you are, we’re creating a digital donor wall. So you will have a million people up there. We’ll have created this donor wall and you can go up to there. Um, and, and your family and generations to come after you’re gone, can type in your name and your picture is just gonna pop right up. And they’ll say that, you know, my sister, my brother, my mother supported this. And so you will be there, your name, your statement, and your photo. And so it’s been a lot of fun. I actually did this with one of our board members. Who’s elderly. He has his first great-grandchild. And so he’s like, I want to be on the wall. I’m like, okay. So he comes to the office cause he can’t use our technologies. And he says, I’m help me do it. Okay. So again, you want to fix your Pam and his great-grandson. I think it would be five months old or something. We’ll use it because when I’m gone and he’s grown up and he can come into see him and he can put in my name and he’ll see you with me and him, we’re on this wall together. And at this project was important to me and I thought, and he wrote, love, knows no age. It was just so amazing. And so it should really tells you about the legacy you’re leaving behind as well. And there’s nowhere else in the, in the country. You can do that for $49.

Scott:
It really makes it accessible to a lot of people. And we heard that loud and clear before that is people wanted to be a part of it, but they couldn’t afford a typical thousand dollars gift or whatever it would cost and other places to get on a wall like that. So we feel like we’ve made it very accessible for anyone who wants to be a part of it. And now what’s great too, is we’re seeing companies, you know, that have employee matches wanting to buy portraits for their employees or with their employees, or if their employees want to buy it, then they’re going to match it. Um, we see entire companies getting involved in wanting their employee base to be involved. We’ve got pride groups from all over the world wanting to be involved and, and just individuals. And that’s another reminder when we see, you know, um, who’s joining all over the place. Again, it’s every state beyond the state. And to be a part of that, you know, with your family, with your loved ones, with your pet, however you want to be remembered for future generations is what’s really great.

Barbara:
It’s kind of funny. You can change your photo, you can change colors. Yeah. I played around with it.

Scott:
Yeah. And you can, you know, you can choose your own commitment statement. We give you options for others, but a lot of people write their own too. So you can make it really unique and personalized as well.

Erik:
You have a direct link to your, what you’re going to portray as yourself in that lifetime Memorial. Huh? Oh, that’s, that’s certainly something new as well.

Scott:
Yeah. And it’s fun because every time you go back on the site, the, the order of the portraits change and the photos change. So one day, you know, I could be next to Barbara the next day I could be next, you know, next right to one of my best friends or your next Ricky or Richard Branson or okay. It’s really, it’s really nice.

Erik:
You gotta be, uh, you gotta be in a top tier of the 1% or to be in the same light as to Richard Branson so that, you know, that doesn’t come around very often, you know?

Brad:
Yeah. And it speaks in everything you do, which I think is the important message of all. I mean, you mentioned before about how different memorials and different, um, you know, tragedies have, have evolved in how they talk about themselves. And some are somber. Everything about you is warm, welcoming, uh, inclusive. I mean, it’s everything that you stand for. I think in, in everything you do, even as even all the way down to the level of who we want to target for, don’t not target, but who we want to bring in as donors. And we want to make sure it’s inclusive. I mean, most people can afford a $49 donation and you get recognition. You get to be, uh, presented. You get to say your message. You get to be involved in the message. I think those are things that sometimes get lost and lost in, in many nonprofits in the world of just, you know, it’s every everything you do, you’ve created this mission, you’ve created this vision, you’ve created this, what you stand for, your, your, your core values and you carry it in everything you do. And I think from everything I’ve heard, I think that’s one of the, you know, of all the impressive things you’re doing, I think, you know, you’ve made that happen and it, and it just, every everything you’ve said in this short conversation, it just all follow suit in that same, that same umbrella of what you stand for, which I love. I love to hear, um and, it’s going to keep you successful forever. So, from your perspective, um, you know how, I mean, it’s not, you’re doing so many good things and I’m sure, um, you’re working 24 7, you know, how can the public, you know, that have they, they haven’t, you know, already stepped up to help you out, you know, where do, where does your organization need, need assistance? If you were to say, you know, whether it’s donations, whether it’s volunteers, whether it’s just sharing our message now, where do you, where do you feel that, that you need the most assistance from the public? Just, you know, given that, you know, we like to display, you know, we, we distribute this out to the public. So, you know, if you said, Hey, I haven’t asked, this is what it would be. Um, you know, hopefully that can, that can help you a little bit or, uh, help, help the public, know how they can step in to help.

Scott:
That’s true. I mean, we do have, we try to open up as many opportunities as possible. So, you know, we’re supported by individual gifts by corporate gifts, from foundations, um, from, uh, even state federal. And, um, so there’s, there’s, there’s always opportunities from just traditional fundraising that way. And people who want to donate, we do year end giving, uh, we do campaigns throughout the year where people can feel like they can be part of that. Obviously we talked a lot about outlove hate. That’s really something that we feel like a lot of people could get behind right now. And it’s, uh, affordable. And, uh, many people could do it. That’s, that’s a current way of doing it. We always have a need for volunteers. You know, even at our interim Memorial at the, at the nightclub sites, we have people that come by and help us keep it, just looking beautiful. Honestly, we have volunteer groups that want to come by and, and help us beautify it and keep it, keep it looking good. So we have a need for that. Um –

Barbara:
We also have needs for professional services. Like we’ve had people step up and like, okay, I know we find- I know how to help you with strategic planning. I know how to help you with, you know, and they donate their professional services. I mean, our committees are full of incredible people from all over making companies. But even at the, at our level here, we can have people back in the office. We always do that too. So expertise is helpful. Um, but really for the general public, I mean to participate in outlet, paint to join the virtual run. I mean, these are real, you know, grassroots ways. You can help support this and, and have fun with it and be in to be a part of our mission show. People have to be dosed at the sites air, and they want to train to come back and give a tour and then actually stand there. And then they talk to people come, it’s a hard thing to do but people love to do it.

Scott:
We also just, even with the two big events, like Barbara mentioned coming up for the community rainbow we’re on, we need, we have a need, a lot of volunteers for that, and you can go on our website, uh, and go under the volunteer section, but we have needs for pre event set up packet set up the day of event. I think we have over a hundred volunteers needed the day of the race, which again is Saturday, June 5th. Uh, we’ll need volunteers for our June 12th remembrance. So there’s always, always volunteer opportunities. And Kelsey who runs our, our volunteer program is wonderful to work with. And she, um, we’ll get back to anyone who wants to volunteer. She’s always looking for, to build our volunteer base, but, um, just the, all the events that are coming up and the things that Barbara mentioned, we try to put ongoing opportunities out there for people to get engaged with us.

Barbara:
We are actually in May, uh, Bloomingdale’s our local Bloomingdale’s, they’ve done it before. They couldn’t do last year because of COVID, but they do like, they let us do a pop up shop and they would make, they take our, or they pick all of our merchandise and they, they display it for us. They don’t skew it. We have to, we have to manage it. And so that means as long as we can manage it, we can, we can be there, but if we can’t manage it, then we can’t. So we, we love having great volunteers who are willing to sit there for a few hours in Bloomingdale’s, which isn’t so bad and to help us in that area. And also Bloomingdale’s, um, not necessarily for pop-up shop, but they have actually partnered with us in six, six national stores and the month of June, um, I’m not sure what is it they’re going to do on.

Scott:
Oh yeah. With our Outlove Hate campaign, they’re going to help us in six of our major markets, but also that coveted window, um, on 50 50, third and third, I believe 50% third. Um, so one of the other things I wanted to mention that we didn’t talk about it through our educational programming, we do conversation series and they are film, uh, free film screenings that happen once a quarter. And our next one is coming up on May 19th. And it’s sponsored by JP Morgan Chase and Lucky Martin and Skanska, but it’s, it’s a film called Disarm Hate. And it specifically ties back to the pulse tragedy because it was written after the tragedy about a group of LGBTQ activists, uh, who get in a bus or van, basically mini bus. And they travel from the west coast to the east coast to go to a rally, um, because they just build a need to do something. But along the way, the, the beauty of the story is even as members of the LGBTQ plus community, they have these really great conversations about how they don’t know each other. Right. So you could have a gay man, a lesbian, um, you could have transgender, you could have bisexual, you could have someone who’s straight all in this, this bus on their way to this journey. But the whole film came out and was created because of what happened at pulse.

Barbara:
Um, one of the most poignant parts for me, and I’ve watched the movie maybe once or twice call length, but when, when we had one girl who was BI and she says, you don’t even see me, I don’t count to any of you. And they just sat there. Even the trans woman was just like, oh, you know, I was just, it was interesting to see how they can talk to each other. And that’s what I was talking about earlier that you really want to get rid of that within the own community, make everyone United there. So it’s, it’s a great film series.

Scott:
Yeah. So we’re going to, we’re going to do that one on May 19th at 7:00 PM. And then we do a panel afterwards for discussion. And the panel for this film is actually gonna be the cast and they’re a fun group. It’s going to be a great conversation. And Dr. Earl Noah, who is our, um, VP of education runs these, and, uh, we’ll be doing once a quarter. We’ve done one, we did one in February to kick it off. This one’s May 19th. And how do you do, how do you get connected virtually? So, yeah, you’ll, you’ll be able to see, we’ll do a press release about it. We have all you can find out about on our website and our social media as well, but it’s free. It’s free to anyone who wants to join.

Barbara:
At the end of the year. We have one more after this. And then at the very end of the year, there’ll be a full screen of a movie with a cast in person.

Scott:
Yeah. So this disarm hate and may is what we’re calling the director’s cut because we needed it to be 20, 30 minutes. The actual full film is over an hour. So back in the November, coming in November, we’re hoping we’ll be able to do it in person by then with everyone. And then the one that we’re doing in September is our we’re doing September, I believe is, uh, Selma to Stonewall. So some really great films.

Ashley:
Amazing. So I have a question for both of you. Um, so it seems like there’s so many different things that you’ve done and so many ripple effects in so many different directions with that specific community and others and across the world. So for each of you, what’s the most recent thing that you’ve been like taken aback by like, where you’re just like, wow, this is so beyond like anything like just my love and my passion for this and this community and just everything in between. Like, what was the moment most recently? Or you can tell me maybe your first moment, I’m curious about either or both, um, that you were like, oh my gosh. I mean, I know you both stepped up and it’s like –

Scott:
So many. I mean, essentially that’s like, we’ll get off a call or a meeting and something happens. It’s like, can you believe that? Just that it’s a constant reminder. I kind of goes back to what we talked about before for me, because I’ve lived here in Orlando since 93 and seeing the change in the community, it’s these constant reminders of the global impact here, and even doing the calls with the global pride organizations, everyone, I always ask the question, why do you think the world responded to this tragedy different than other tragedies? And it’s what Barbara said earlier. It’s because it could have been any gay nightclub in any city, in any part of the world. And it’s a sacred and safe place and space, and that was taken away and it could have been any one of us. And I think everyone recognizes it and everyone feels it. And I think that’s why we see this coming together of people from all over the world and kind of just dropping everything and saying, okay, we’re just here to support and love. And that’s really, the legacy of Pulse is love. And that’s one of our, you know, one of our words and, and I think it’s, it’s just, it flows through everything we do. It’s, it’s that common thread through everything that we do.

Barbara:
It’s to give you some specifics. I mean, one day it can be the fact that you’ve met a pastor of an advanced evangelical church who grew the biggest non-denominational church here in Orlando, who, after the shooting said, I missed something here. Why is my community not connected to this community? And he tried to make some changes and, and he left his church and he left the church he filled. Um, and then the next day it could be like today, when we were talking to a father of a victim, who story, you know, he was a pastor and in a, in a black church. And when the shooting happened and how the church, he had grown from like 14 people to thousands of people, you know, what a various dollar. And so, you know, and then, you know, so you’re moved by that. And that’s a moment. And then you have a moments like a Ricky Martin moment, and then you have, you know, like you go from every spectrum is every moment is a wow moment, but from a different emotional place. Because when I hung up with him today, LSU and I was like, it was weepy. I thought, this is why we do this. What we do is so important, you know? And so I guess it’s just, it happens everyday, but it happens in different emotional levels.

Scott:
And Barbara gets to say that almost every day, because something literally happens every day. And it’s a good reminder, you know, when you think of companies and nonprofits and everything, sometimes you have to search and dig and it’s like, okay, why we’re here? What’s our purpose. We get reminded of it every day through stories of, um, the families and the, the survivors and first responders that we talk to daily, through sponsors, through people wanting to be a part of what we’re doing for, for local partnerships, national partnerships. It’s just, there’s always a reminder. And then unfortunately, you know, there are other things that happen in the world that remind us that, you know, we still have work to do.

Barbara:
I remember the first time the board itself ever assembled for first for me. And when we picked, when we went around interviewed board members and we picked them, we didn’t tell them who was on the board. So they didn’t know anybody was sitting on that board until they all got into one room and they all came from around the country. And so the very first board meeting literally consisted of besides the regular stuff that happens later, you know, it’s up, you know, why are you here? What’s your story? And no one expected that you had 20 people who went around the room and told them their why it, I mean, there wasn’t a dry eye. I was, I’m sitting in a room with people from like VPs and CEOs, like, uh, very large companies and I’m just watching them. And I thought to myself, wow, that was my first mom. Wow. You know, that it was just so powerful. And, and then you just realized they’re in this just like we are. And I think it’s the one place they get to be just enough for their own personal reasons, especially it was just, it happened.

Scott:
And I, and I think too, you know, our educational programming that we mentioned is really focuses on how we’re more alike than different. And I think everyone is craving that. Now everyone wants, everyone wants to feel unified. Everyone wants to feel a part of something bigger than themselves. And, um, I think it’s, that’s another driver for us is we hear those stories too, is that people just want to feel hard to something. And they want to, we focused so much in the last few years on how different, I think, ready, everyone’s ready to have the conversation. How are we really more alike? And there are more commonalities and how can we get to common ground and how can we have courageous conversations? And that’s really what our education programs are going to be and what we want them to be. And we really want to encourage those conversations. And then there will be a part of the museum too, to what happens in a museum and telling the stories of everyone’s impacted.

Ashley:
Yeah, you guys have such a well-rounded grouping of opportunities and offerings, and just ways for people to get involved and to feel connected no matter where they’re at in their lives, even trauma, even trauma based, just any sort of trauma that almost it all overlaps. And that is important. You know, you stand for a specific mission, but how you, um, talk to these communities, everybody can relate to and feel a, feel a part of and connected. And then that reminds you that we all are connected at the end of the day. And when you look, and then when you start, it’s a whole domino effect, because when you realize that you realize that there’s so much, that can be supported, that should be supported and it shouldn’t, it shouldn’t always take a tragedy, but at times those tragedies is what brings everybody together and opens a lot of people’s eyes and in so many ways.

Scott:
So true.

Ashley:
Yeah. What do you guys, um, if you wanted to tell our listeners like one takeaway or, um, just like one final sort of wrap up like statement, or just like passion statement for what you do and your organization and how they can get involved, what would it be?

Scott:
Hmm, I think that’s a great question. I think for me, yeah. Well, I mean, it kind of goes back to what we talked about it, you know, our, our promise everyone is we will not let hate when we talk about love and that being the legacy. And, you know, I’ve recently, you know, Barbara knowing this longer than I have, but even talking to the, uh, nightclub staff, you know, and, and seeing them as a group and seeing that the bond among that group and their stories about what that nightclub was prior to the tragedy and how it was a place where everyone, one, you could bring your mom, you could bring your dad, you could bring your aunt and uncle just repeated stories than that. Right. Because it was a place of love. I think that’s what drives us and everything we do. And, you know, obviously out love, hate, you know, we, we thought like even launching that, it’s, it’s, it’s an everything we do is this bringing people together, the unity piece of it, um, trying to make sure that people just, like we said, focus on how are more alike and that love can enter easily. That way, once you start looking at everything through a different lens. So I feel personally that everything we do, we’re really trying to get people there is to look at, look at life differently, look at it through a different lens, kind of down the barriers and, and let’s just support each other and help each other. And we have a great opportunity in front of us with the Memorial, the national Memorial museum and the survivors walk to make sure that we tell the stories of not only what the nightclub was prior to the tragedy, but what every one of the 49 angels story was, that’s really important that people know who they were prior and what their dreams and aspirations were, the survivors, the first responders. And then we have an opportunity to educate future generations. So something like this doesn’t happen again.

Barbara:
Yeah. I think for me, I always say this, this project, this national Memorial museum is our social and our moral responsibility. We are the keepers of this history and it’s our job to get it right. And it’s our job to make sure that it doesn’t happen again. And then we, you know, it is this generation Stonewall. And so, you know, I think when you own it and you live it and you breathe it in, you walk in every day and you talk it every day, it’s part of your life every day. Um, you’ll start to see change in the world. And so that the other mission is that when you’ve walked through the experience that we want to put together for people and children and families and old, and young and generations who are coming, they leave, they’re changed. I’ve been to a couple of these experiences. I’ve been to a lot of museums memorials in this last four and a half years. There’s a couple I’ve walked out of changed forever. And I know that. And so, and that is what we want people to feel like when they leave our place.

Erik:
Love it. Wonderful. Yeah it’s definitely a Memorial that you can take and make future change, versus some of the memorials that exist out there that are really just past history and kind of where it resides at. It’s a good message.

Ashley:
It’s a new perspective.

Barbara:
Over time, over time things move too. So any other questions or –

Brad:
No, thank you so much for your time. Uh, we appreciate it. We appreciate being able to share your message and, and really just wanna, uh, highlight what a wonderful organization you are and the impact you’re having and hope that we can help make more of an impact for you. So we appreciate it. And thank you so much for taking the opportunity to talk with us today.

Barbara:
Always, thank you guys so much.

Scott:
Thank you for your time too. Appreciate it.

Brad:
I’m sure we’ll talk soon. Have a good day.

Brad:
Hey warriors. Thanks for tuning in. Make sure to subscribe to Civic Warriors and thanks for all your support. Have a great day.

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