"In love and solidarity." Photo by Joe Rivano Barros.

More than 200 people marched from the Castro to the Mission District in solidarity with the LGBT Latino community for its loss in the aftermath of the Orlando shootings, which targeted a gay nightclub known as a hotspot for gay Latinos. The shooting occurred on Latin night, and the vast majority of its 49 victims were Latino.

“What we’re doing today is about love, support, and solidarity with our Latino community and our communities of color,” said Terry Allen, a co-organizer of Saturday’s march alongside Cleve Jones, the prominent gay rights activist.

Jones said that in the aftermath of the Orlando shooting, he heard from LGBT Latino community members who felt “excluded” by the vigil honoring the victims held in the Castro hours after the shooting.

“That is shameful,” Jone said through a bullhorn at Harvey Milk Plaza, where hundreds gathered and began the march towards Galería de la Raza on 24th Street at 3 p.m. “We will not allow our community to be divided by racism, transphobia, or any other stuff.”

Jones got in touch with Lito Sandoval, the president of the Latino Democratic Club, who along with other LGBT Mission District leaders wanted to ensure that the Latino aspect of the tragedy was not erased.

Sandoval said a march from the Castro to the Mission District stressing the Latino aspect of the tragedy would be welcome.

“I thought of all the times I had asked people to march to the Castro,” said Jones. “And I thought, ‘We should march to the Mission.’”

Hundreds of people walked down Castro Street and turned on 18th Street towards the Mission District, shouting “Somos Orlando!” and “Orlando vive!” as they marched past Dolores Park. The massive crowd held up signs with the names of those killed in the attack last week and marched to Galería de la Raza on 24th Street for an event at 4 p.m.

Mission Local could not stay for the event at Galería de la Raza due to the five-alarm fire at 29th and Mission streets.

Photo by Joe Rivano Barros.
Hundreds met at Harvey Milk Plaza in the Castro District to stand in solidarity with the LGBT Latino community. Photo by Joe Rivano Barros.
Photo by Joe Rivano Barros.
Photo by Joe Rivano Barros.
Photo by Joe Rivano Barros.
Photo by Joe Rivano Barros.
Cleeve Jones in front of the march. Photo by Joe Rivano Barros.
Photo by Joe Rivano Barros.

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  1. It’s time to reclaim the rainbow flag at Milk Plaza for the people. We should find it unacceptable that important public space has been privatized and controlled by a business organization. Surely Harvey Milk would have lowered the flag at this plaza all week, maybe all month, to honor the Orlando dead. Please read this story from the San Diego Gay and Lesbian News:

    http://sdgln.com/news/2016/06/16/castro-street-pride-flag-remains-full-mast-after-orlando-attacks

    SAN FRANCISCO – The Pride flag standing vigilant over the entrance to one of the most recognized LGBT neighborhoods in the world is flying full-mast in San Francisco, despite other cities flying theirs at half-mast.

    President Obama ordered that all U.S. flags on federal property to be flown at half-mast until Thursday in honor of the victims of the Orlando massacre.

    Although the Pride flag doesn’t need to follow this protocol, it is out of respect for those in the community that many LGBT neighborhoods mirror the president’s orders when it comes to the LGBT rainbow banner.

    The decision to fly the Pride flag at full-mast in the Castro was implemented five years ago by members of the Castro Merchants, and has been strictly followed ever since, with no exceptions even in respect to the recent tragedy in Orlando.

    The guidelines for the policy are set by the large merchant’s organization, and their President Daniel Bergerac. Bergerac says he is not insensitive to the pain and resilience of the LGBT community being gay himself, but he has to follow what his board has voted on.

    “Unfortunately I have 300 members of which I am trying to appease and they all have varying opinions of it and the decision and vote that was made by the membership is what I have to respect.”

    But last Sunday, before the city’s vigil honoring the victims of the Orlando attacks, Bergerac broke protocol and bought a smaller flag and flew that at half-mast. Once the vigil was over the larger banner was put back in place and once again flown at full-mast.

    It was a bold move, and one the community applauded.

    “My decision on Sunday to replace the flag with the smaller one and fly it half-staff was my decision to beg for forgiveness, rather than ask for permission by my membership who have voted completely against doing what I did,” he said.

    One of the problems is that the 30-foot banner is so large that flying it mid-pole would interfere with cables and powerlines.

    We asked Bergerac if it were possible to fly a smaller one at half-mast until Thursday, or on special occasions, but again it is not the agreed upon protocol, and he emphasizes there are no exceptions.

    “In my mind it is unfortunate that the organization was put through such an emotional, heated, debate over this, and it is unfortunate that – the whole situation is very unfortunate,” he said.

    San Diego follows the presidential orders of the U.S. flag when it comes to raising or lowering the Pride flag in Hillcrest.

    Executive Director of the Hillcrest Business Association, Benjamin Nicholls tells us that although there is an agreed upon policy for the San Diego flag, he is open for discussions about its positioning if community members think there is a need.

    For now, the Castro district, one of the most celebrated LGBT neighborhoods in the world will have to keep thier Pride flag at full-staff even in the wake of the Orlando tragedy, a situation Bergerac says he may not agree with, but must abide by.

    “Our membership after much debate, months and months and months of debate, voted unanimously that the Pride flag in Harvey Milk Plaza would fly as the artist intended 365 days a year at full staff,” he said. “That was the decision of our membership.”

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