Heartbreak and hope: The world reacts to the Orlando shootings

After America’s worst terrorist attack since 9/11, celebrities, world leaders and Twitter react with #LoveWins

In the early hours of Sunday morning, the Orlando mass shooting in gay nightclub Pulse left at least 49 people dead and over 50 more injured. The gunman, named as Omar Mateen, 29, had pledged allegiance to ISIS and was shot dead by police, who have declared a state of emergency in Florida.

Lady Gaga has led an emotional vigil in Los Angeles where she read out the names and ages of the 49 people killed in the mass shooting in Orlando. ‘I can’t help but feel that this level of hatred, like all prejudicial crimes, this is an attack on humanity itself. This is an attack on everyone,’ she continued ‘Tonight, I gather humbly with you, as a human being, in peace and sincerity, in commitment and solidarity, to take a real moment and mourn the tragic loss of these innocent, beautiful people.’

#TwoMenKissing is trending as people around the world are sharing beautifully poignant images on social media in solidarity to the Orlando victims and the LGBT community.

@mylessexton shares this #TwoMenKissing image in support of the Orlando victims and the LGBT community

Vigils were held across the world paying tribute to the victims. London’s district of Soho became a scene of home and support for Orlando and the LGBT community everywhere as crowds gathered in the street to stand together. Holding candles and rainbow flags, hundreds sang along as The London Gay Men’s Chorus performed a moving rendition of Simon and Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water.

A minute’s silence was held in various cities around the world, with the crowds in Soho releasing silver balloons into the sky – symbolising the victims of the attack.

Public figures have been paying their respects to the fallen from politicians like Jeremy Corbyn laying flowers to JK Rowling who voiced her sadness at the death of Luis Vielma, who had worked on the ‘Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey’ ride at Universal Studios Florida theme park. ‘I can’t stop crying’ she tweeted to her followers.

Heartbreaking text exchanges between victims and their loved ones have emerged, including the chilling message from Eddie Justice, who was inside the club, to his mother that read ‘He’s coming. I’m gonna die.’ As the world reacts with shock and solidarity to the victims and their families, President Barack Obama said the shooting was: ‘An especially heartbreaking day for our friends who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. This is a sobering reminder that attacks on any American, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation is an attack on all of us and on the fundamental values of equality and dignity that define us as a country and no act of hate or terror will ever change who we are or the values that make us Americans.’

President Obama delivers a statement on the Orlando mass shooting tragedy

The tragedy has yet again shone a spotlight on gun control laws in the US, with Obama saying, ‘This massacre is a further reminder of how easy it is for someone to get their hands on a weapon that allows them to shoot people.’

Hillary Clinton reacted to the news by saying, ‘For now, we can say for certain that we need to redouble our efforts to defend our country from threats at home and abroad. That means defeating international terror groups, working with allies and partners to go after them wherever they are, countering their attempts to recruit people here and everywhere, and hardening our defenses at home.’ And in direct support to the LGBT community, she said, ‘Please know that you have millions of allies across our country. I am one of them. We will keep fighting for your right to live freely, openly and without fear. Hate has absolutely no place in America.’

Hillary Clinton tweets her support

In the entertainment world, the Tony Awards 2016 took on a more sombre mood than usual as stars paid tribute to the victims by wearing silver ribbons #TonysRibbon to show their support. Host James Corden said, ‘Hate will never win. Together, we have to make sure of that. All we can say is, you are not on your own right now. Your tragedy is our tragedy. Theatre is a place where every race, creed, sexuality and gender is equal, is embraced, and is loved.’

Host of the 2016 Tony Awards, James Corden wears a silver ribbon in support of victims

With attention focused again on the prejudices that too-often surround media reporting of mass killings, for many, CNN political commentator Sally Kohn summed up the frustrations with one tweet: ‘Muslim shooter = entire religion guilty. Black shooter = entire race guilty. White shooter = mentally troubled lone wolf.’

As the world comes to terms with the aftermath of such a shocking attack, Twitter has resurrected #LoveWins with everyone from Ellen DeGeneres to London Mayor Sadiq Khan tweeting in solidarity and sharing the Pride flag for victims, their families and the people of Orlando. Our thoughts are with them.

Reading now

Popular