Sunday 4 December 2016

Orlando tragedy was a mirror for narcissists

The grief of the people of Florida was hijacked by gay activists and social media warriors, writes Donal Lynch

Donal Lynch

Published 19/06/2016 | 02:30

In memory: Crosses, one for each victim, line a walkway as a memorial to those killed in the Pulse nightclub shootings a few blocks from the club in Orlando. Photo: David Goldman/PA
In memory: Crosses, one for each victim, line a walkway as a memorial to those killed in the Pulse nightclub shootings a few blocks from the club in Orlando. Photo: David Goldman/PA

I have been to Orlando twice in my life. First as a 13-year-old with my parents, when it seemed impossibly huge and impossibly exciting - and then as a 33-year-old when it seemed small, cheap and incredibly tacky.

  • Go To

In the interim, Orlando underwent its own seismic shift in perspective. In 1991, a group of gay men and women defied the saccharine family-only image of Disneyland and began congregating in Orlando's biggest theme parks.

There were only a few hundred of them in those years but they wore red shirts to make themselves more visible. They brought their children by the hand. Word of mouth turned Gay Days, as it became known, into a national festival in the US, nestling somewhere in the niche between Groundhog Day and Southern Decadence. By the time I returned, two decades later, the number of revellers had swelled to 300,000 and the message had been received loud and clear by Disney, and America generally: gay people are families, too. I had come out by then myself and Orlando, for all its kitschness, seemed to bookend the two big changes in my life; the onset of puberty and the slide into middle age.

Please sign in or register with Independent.ie for free access to Opinions.

Sign In

Read More

Don't Miss

Editor's Choice