Harrogate LGBT youth group pay emotional tribute to Orlando Pulse victims

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Harrogate's LGBT youth group has sent its 'thoughts and support' to the victims of the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando on Sunday.

At around 2am, a gunman opened fire at Pulse, one of biggest nightclubs in Orlando, killing at least 49 people and injuring dozens more.

Around 300 people were inside the nightclub at the time of the attack with many escaping before the gunman was eventually shot dead by police.

Communities across the USA have rallied together in the wake of the attack, the worst mass shooting in modern American history, with vigils also held in England.

The LGBT youth group, which meets at a secrete location in Harrogate, and Yorkshire Mesmac have also paid tribute to the victims of the attack.

However, the group's leader Tommo Snape, said the attack highlighted the hatred the LGBTQ community community endures at some level 'every single day'.

He said: "What happened in Orlando is in some ways to incomprehensible to even try and think about. Our thoughts and support go out to the victims and their families friends husbands wives and partners.

"However this was an act of extreme violence against the LGBTQ community. If anyone asks why we have PRIDE this is why.

"So we can feel safe. So we can support each other. So we can share a common goal of equality. So we can walk the streets without fear of being attacked for being part of the LGBTQ community."

The Harrogate LGBT youth group is forced to hold their fortnightly meetings at a secret location out of fear of persecution.

Teenagers across the Harrogate district meet to discuss and raise awareness of issues affecting the LGBT community as well as offering support to those being bullied.

Each teenager who attended a meeting during December, one as young as 13. revealed they had faced some sort of bullying or persecution after coming out.

Tom Doyle, Yorkshire Mesmac Chief Executive, said the attack on Orlando's LGBT was an attack on every LGBT person and every safe space that has been created.

He said: "Our thoughts at this time are with those whose hearts are broken, we feel their loss and we stand with them in their time of grief.

"The disgusting maiming and taking of life is as senseless as it is futile. But, history tells us that the LGBT community does not crumble in the face of adversity.

"We fight back, we use our strength, creativity and passion to build a stronger movement, with a louder voice demanding equality for all."

If anyone feels that they have been a victim of hate crime or need advice and support, contact Tommo on t.snape@mesmac.co.uk or visit www.mesmac.co.uk.