Orlando shooting heavy on hearts at Golden Valley Pride Festival

- A message of love, unity and inclusion is all the more important on Sunday at Golden Valley’s newest celebration— the city’s first Pride Festival.

More than 600 people attended the showing of support for Golden Valley’s LGBTQ community where song, colorful communion, a sense of liberty and pride filled Brookview Park Sunday.

“Us coming together today is so important and this is just the kind of thing that reminds us of why need to have events like this,” said Kimberly Sandberg, a Golden Valley Pride Steering Committee member at commencement.

The Golden Valley Pride Festival began with heads bowed as visitors paid their respects with a moment of silence for those lost in the Orlando nightclub massacre.

“It’s deeply saddening to me,” said festival-goer Matthew Hammelman. “You never know with all the mass shootings that have happened just in the past year. It’s really concerning as to whether or not the government can keep actually us safe.”

The Pulse Nightclub rampage in Orlando left at least 50 dead and rattles the entire LGBTQ community. Including Minnesota’s.

“Golden Valley does have one of the largest LGBTQ communities in the state,” Sandberg told FOX 9.

“We’re going to stand for love and compassion and for those who want to celebrate who they are and what they stand for,” said Golden Valley Mayor Shep Harris.

Harris fully supports his city’s latest celebration.

Protestors also gathered about a few feet away from the event.

“It makes this festival all the more important that we stand united with our brothers and sisters who’ve been unfortunately shot down,” Harris said.

In wake of the mass shooting District 46A State Representative Peggy Flanagan posted on Twitter Sunday morning, “If you need to be with community today, the Golden Valley Pride Festival is this afternoon at Brookview Park. Take Care. #Pride2106”

During the festival Flanagan stopped by to extend her support personally ahead of the moment of silence.
“As folks are in mourning and are dealing with this trauma we can come together and just be in community with one another,” Flanagan told FOX 9.

“There’s a lot of people here that I didn’t know supported LGBT,” said JoVan Valentino, who attended the event.

Valentino recently married his partner of eight years. As a newlywed, he too, hopes for further inclusion and grieves Sunday’s unforgettable act of hate.

“At first, it was the shooting of the club, but to the extent it was a gay club - it just brought it a little closer to my heart. It [is] very tragic,” said Valentino.

Sunday at 7 p.m., OutFront Minnesota will hold a vigil at Loring Park in Minneapolis to provide another space for people to gather and process the extent of the tragedy together.

Loring Park is also where Twin Cities Pride Festival will be held June 25.

OutFront Minnesota plans to have discussions with Twin Cities Pride organizers, Minneapolis Police and park police about how to make the festival this year as safe as possible.

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