I crumpled onto a bench and wept for the victims, their loved ones, my wife and me, and for our wounded communities, particularly the LGBTQ and Latinx communities targeted. As we got back up, it was like walking in deep sand, sorrow hitting us in waves, fury and fear swirling in the maelstrom.
At the vigil that night, speakers kept drawing a contrast between last June's jubilant celebrations of the landmark marriage equality ruling and the tragedy that bought us together this time.
Afterward the crowd marched to The Boatslip, a LGBTQ beach club, slipped through the booming dance music, and gathered on the deck under blue sky and rainbow flags.
A moment of silence followed.
Then "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" broke the silence, and those who could find even a fragment of their voices sang along. The next song, "I Will Survive," called us defiantly to the dance floor, still crying, imagining the 49 people gunned down while they grooved together on Latin night at Pulse. Later that week, I listened to "Yo Viveré" (I Will Survive) by Celia Cruz as I read about the victims, their lives, and their dreams.
As Lin-Manuel Miranda, Lady Gaga, Staceyann Chin, and many other prominent artists have said, love is the only answer to this hate. Love for ourselves, our allies, groups scapegoated for the senseless slaughter wrought by one armed and violent man, and even, amid our grief, love for those whose words and behavior in the days since this massacre have deepened our pain.
We must respond--with actions and with our art.
Love, above all, must guide our response.