KAPAA — Noelle Hamilton-Cambeilh wants the world to know the LGBTQ community will continue to fight.
“We’re not going anywhere, and we’re not moving backwards,” she said.
Hamilton-Cambeilh, founding president of Parents, Family & Friends of Lesbians and Gays, or PFLAG Kauai, said she woke up Sunday morning to the news that a gunman went on a shooting rampage the Pulse, a gay club in Orlando, Florida.
“I was shocked and mortified. It’s a very sad day for our community. This is just horrific,” she said. “It’s sad, seeing our recent gains for something like this to happen.”
Police say Omar Mateen is responsible for a mass shooting that left 49 people dead and 53 wounded. Mateen, who was shot and killed by police, previously voiced hate for minorities, gays and Jews. Most of his victims were gay, Latino, or both, according to reports.
The shooting is indicative of a long road to acceptance for the LGBTQ community, said Hamilton-Cambeilh.
“People think that because we’ve made strides — like gay marriage and transgender rights — that we can relax a bit,” she said. “But there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done.”
On Monday, as the identities of the victims were being released, PFLAG Kauai started to make plans for a public candlelight vigil, honoring the people who lost their lives.
The vigil will take place at 6:45 p.m. Friday on the Kapaa side of the Wailua River Bridge.
The Orlando shooting came just one week before Kauai’s Pride Weekend on Kauai, which starts Friday. It includes camping, an evening social and a family potluck picnic at Lydgate Park, said Kauai County Councilman Kipukai Kuali’i.
The Kauai County Council recognizes June as Kauai Pride month, he added.
“In light of the recent tragedy in Orlando, the Kauai County Council extends its heartfelt support and continued encouragement to the organizers and all attendees of the annual Kauai Pride Celebration for their efforts to raise awareness and promote equality in the community, while encouraging our lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, pansexual, asexual and questioning community to stand proud together for acceptance, dignity, and equality,” Kuali’i said.
Kuali’i, who co-founded the PFLAG Kauai chapter, along with Hamilton-Cambeilh, Renae Hamilton and Joe Carrillo, said he cried when he heard the news of the Orlando shooting.
“It was heart-wrenching to wake up to an Orlando mother on the news, desperate to know where her son was and whether he was alive. It made me cry to see her pain and anguish,” he said. “How horrible too, hearing of all those lives lost. Lives lost to bigotry and hate. Lives lost to aggression and assault weaponry. Why is it even possible for one person to be able to extinguish so many lives? My deepest love and aloha go out to everyone affected; including our LGBTIQ community here on Kauai and in Hawaii.”