PROVINCETOWN, MA – Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” rang out as the evening’s anthem at Provincetown’s vigil in honor of the victims of the Orlando shooting. More than 300 people gathered on the steps of Town Hall on Sunday evening to honor the 49 individuals who lost their lives and the scores of others who suffered injuries during what is being called the worst single mass murder in U.S. history at Orlando’s LGBTQ Pulse nightclub.
Provincetown’s Town Manager, David Panagore said this town is deeply connected to this tragedy. “We will never allow those who are filled with hate to drive a wedge into our community or our nation. For decades, the LGBTQ community has found Provincetown to be their international gathering place and during this time we must remain unified, and stand strong in the face of this senseless act. We are all Orlando,” said Panagore.

The event, organized by the Town and The Gay Men’s Wisdom

Photo by Radu Luca. Officials display scene of solidarity in front of historic Provincetown Town Hall. From left to right: Miss Richfield 1981; David Panagore, Town Manager; Raymond Rigoglioso, Gay Men of Wisdom Center; Cheryl Andrews, Selectman; Sarah Peake, State Representative; Robert Anthony, Selectman; and Erik Yingling, Selectman

Center’s Raymond Rigoglioso, featured tributes from Rev. Terry R. Pannell, State Representative Sarah Peake and international entertainer, Miss Richfield 1981.

Following the vigil, attendees created a procession down Commercial Street to the Boatslip Resort, where the vigil ended at the place where America’s first and lasting Gay Tea Dances draw thousands annually. The normal celebration of dancing and renewing friendship fell silent for moment of solidarity followed by a stirring rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”

Provincetown, the small village at the tip of Cape Cod is known as America’s First Destination because of important and historic firsts. Provincetown is the cradle of American Democracy and was the first destination for the Pilgrims in search of liberty and freedom, landing in 1620 and inking the Mayflower Compact in Provincetown Harbor. It was back in 2004 in Provincetown that the first same sex marriages were ceremoniously welcomed and one of the most revered spots dedicated to the memory of the thousands who were taken by AIDS.

Three centuries following the arrival of peoples to the New World, the LGBTQ community makes annual treks to Provincetown to bask in the freedom of expression and liberation that lives on today. This week’s celebration of life honors the individuals who lost their lives and the families and friends of the Orlando victims, reminding all that the struggle for freedom is never over. “The lives lost in Orlando mirror the images of millions who have fought to remain true to their being. Each life represents a beacon of hope for all to live with honesty and integrity, traits that demonstrate what is best about America,” said Panagore.
Provincetown’s season of commemorations and celebrations will go on without fear and in the spirit of promoting solidarity that is part of the DNA of a great LGBTQ community.
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