OP President: ‘Let’s Be Family’

This is a transcript of what Tim Sharp, Ogden Pride president, said at a candlelight vigil for the Orlando shooting victims, held June 15, 2016, at Weber State University:

Hello. My name is Tim Sharp. I am the president of Ogden Pride.

Some of you may not know we have an Ogden Pride organization. We are relatively new, created about a year and a half ago to celebrate LGBTQ individuals and their families — especially their families — and to support them in building and strengthening inclusive communities. We try to achieve those goals with our own local annual Pride festival, which is held in August.

Today, though, we don’t have a lot to celebrate. We are grieving. We are afraid. We are confused. We are angry. So let’s focus on “support.” Today let’s lean on one another, make our shoulders available for tears, and open our arms wide to offer safe, comforting, reassuring hugs. Let’s be “family.”

Communities & Families — They come in all shapes … and sizes … and forms … and combinations. All of us — right here right now — we’re family. All of the victims in Orlando, and all of their friends and loved ones — we are their family.

No, we don’t have much to celebrate today, but we can be comforted, and we can look with hope at this gathering, and the one the other night in Salt Lake, and the one in Provo, and the ones in Denver and Chicago and New York and London and Paris and many, many others.

We can look at the hundreds of people who lined up to donate blood. We can look at the dollar amounts rolling over as donations pour in on GoFundMe.

We can look out and see community become unity all around the world. We can see the worldwide allied LGBT family come together.

We are strong; we are resilient. Once upon a time, we were burned at the stake. We were thrown into asylums, herded into concentration camps, decimated by disease.

But each time, we rose; we emerged stronger, more united and with more allies. We won our rights to marry, to have kids, to live our lives freely and authentically. We have seen our pride elevated.

There has been backlash — so-called religious freedom laws and bathroom bills. Around the world young gay men are tossed off buildings. That, and tragedies like this remind us that there are still battles to be fought. And we will fight them.

But believe this: we are winning. Hate and evil cause almost unbearable pain and hurt, but that is temporary. Hate and evil are losing propositions; they cannot be sustained.

The family of humanity will always come together — to mourn, to wipe away tears, to square our shoulders and raise our heads, and our voices. Because, love always wins. Love always wins.