Kokomo Pride, faith leaders hold vigil for Orlando

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KOKOMO, Ind. — In Kokomo, faith leaders and the LGBT community joined together to remember the 49 victims of the Orlando nightclub shooting.

Wednesday night, Kokomo Pride lit 49 candles for the 49 victims inside St. Andrew Episcopal Church.

“For all of us to be able to come out and voice how we’ve been touched by this, is a huge support among the rest of us,” said Kayla Nielander.

Minutes later, Nielander and dozens of Kokomo Pride members’ voices filled the chapel.

They sang alongside supporters of varying sexual identities and religions, with many still feeling the loss to the nation’s LGBT community.

“They were someplace that they felt very secure and they could be who they are and in the blink of an eye, all of this horrific act happened and they lost their lives,” said Kokomo Pride President Darrell Blasius.

Tonight, they comforted each other in another safe place.

For members of the LGBT community in Kokomo, St. Andrew is one of those places because of its leader Father Richard.

He stepped up and said, “Hey, my church is open. You’re more than welcome to come in.”

For some, the church’s open doors are helping heal fresh wounds. Tonight’s vigil was a reminder for the faithful that despite last weekend’s horror, the LGBT community is still supported.

“For the LGBT community that their parents and families may not support them because of their faith,” said Nielander. “This is showing that the faith is very welcoming to them.”

For Nielander and others, the service was also a reminder that their pride and faith can never be replaced by fear.

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