KAPAA — For Hank Garvey, attending a vigil for the victims of the Orlando shooting was a way to show his support and solidarity.
“I wanted to come not only to honor the Orlando victims, but everyone who is suffering from hate,” he said.
Garvey was one of about 100 people who attended the vigil Friday night at Kapaa Beach. By 7 p.m., candles and tiki torches led to people coming together for others they never knew.
The vigil hosted by Parents, Family & Friends of Gays and Lesbians was held in an effort for increased compassion and education, said Noelle Hamilton- Cambeilh.
“People need to learn how to be kind to everyone, and not single someone out because they’re different,” she said.
Nancy Walsh said the shooting at the Orlando nightclub shattered a safe place where people felt encouraged to be themselves.
“I don’t go to gay bars anymore, but I remember them being a safe place where everyone was accepted,” she said. “These men and women were just beginning their lives.”
Walsh said she was “flabbergasted” when she woke up to the news Sunday morning.
“It’s just devastating,” she said.
Garvey said the first thing that went through his mind Sunday morning was “not again.”
“It’s just really sad, to see the names of these beautiful young people who were wiped out,” he said.
Walsh’s partner, Jeanne Haapala, said they felt compelled to attend the vigil.
“It was an absolute necessity,” she said. “We’re new to the island and we wanted to reach out and this seemed like the best thing to do to express our grief and support for the victims.”
David Langhman, who is visiting Kauai from North Carolina, said he just stumbled upon the vigil while walking on the beach.
“It was extremely moving,” he said.
The vigil included a reading of the names of the 49 victims and an open letter read by Valerie Saiki. It ended with “Hawaii Aloha,” led by Councilman KipuKai Kuali’i.
It also kicked off Pride Weekend, which runs through Sunday.
The fact that Pride Weekend was scheduled to start a week after the shooting wasn’t lost on Hamilton-Cambeilh.
“It hits you right in the gut,” she said.