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Orlando Shooting Brings Eugene LGBTQ Community Together In Grief

A gay nightclub in central Florida is now the scene of the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. The tragedy sent shock waves across the nation. Sunday afternoon, patrons of Eugene's only gay bar shared their grief. KLCC's Tiffany Eckert spoke with the co-founder of The Wayward Lamb.

John O'Malley lives in Eugene. A year ago, he helped open and promote the city's premier gay bar, The Wayward Lamb. The news of the shootings hit O'Malley especially hard. He went to college in Orlando. And he spent most weekends at Pulse, the nightclub that turned into grisly crime scene overnight.

O'Malley: "I still have many friends there, many college buddies, that…I didn't know. I didn't know if they were there or they weren't there. And communication was really difficult as there was a hostage situation. And, it was terrifying."

Once the news spread, people began to gather at the Wayward Lamb in downtown Eugene.

O'Malley:"It's surreal. People have talked to each other. Hugged each other and kind of processed what it would mean to have something like that happen here. Because having been in Orlando, I can say, Orlando's community was just as nice as Eugene's community."

O'Malley grieves over the murders but says he will not be afraid. He says it probably wasn't an accident that the shooting happened during Gay Pride month. O'Malley is a proud gay man.  

O'Malley: "That's the power that they can't take away from us even when we have these horrible tragedies. We will still go on loving each other. We will still go on being a part of the community. And even when we lose people, their memory exists."

Tiffany joined the KLCC News team in 2007. She studied journalism at the University of Missouri-Columbia and has worked in a variety of media including television and daily print news. For KLCC, Tiffany reports on health care, social justice and local/regional news. She has won awards from Oregon Associated Press, PRNDI, and Education Writers Association.
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