The University of Nebraska-Lincoln LGBTQA+ Resource Center and student organization The Change teamed up with various organizations, businesses and churches around Lincoln to help bring “Orlando: 49 Farolitos” exhibit to Lincoln for the Pulse Tribute Tour as part of LGBT History Month.
Artist James Nocito, based out of San Diego, drew portraits of each of the 49 victims who lost their lives in the Orlando nightclub shooting in June 2016 on paper bags. Nocito wanted people all over the country to be able to commemorate the people who lost their lives that night, according to Pat Tetreault, director of the LGBTQA+ Resource Center.
“I think that when you are part of a community, particularly one that’s marginalized, and that people believe it’s OK to discriminate against, that having that community attacked, particularly a deadly attack, impacts people,” she said. “I think it impacts some people more than others, but [the LGBTQA+ office] had many students come to us after the attack happened asking to organize something on campus.”
The Pulse Tribute Tour kicked off its Lincoln display on Friday, Oct. 6, in the Nebraska Union. Originally, the event was supposed to be an outdoor event at Tower Square, but due to the weather, the event had to be moved indoors.
Several different speakers were at the kickoff event, including Mayor Chris Beutler, public safety director Tom Casady and City Council member Bennie Shobe.
“They spoke about using this [the Pulse Tribute Tour] as an opportunity to unify ourselves instead of having a divide, to stay strong, and to stand up to hate,” said The Change President Cassie Pyle, a senior actuarial science major.
After the speeches, each group that sponsored the Pulse Tribute Tour had representatives read the names of all the victims and carry the bags to the display table. The exhibit was on display for a few hours before it was moved.
Since then, the bags have been traveling around Lincoln. The bags went to nightclub The Alley on Friday night, nightclub Panic on Saturday, Vine Congregational United Church of Christ and Antelope Park for the third annual Fall For Pride Festival on Sunday.
On Monday, the display was brought back to the Nebraska Union. That afternoon, the display was taken to the Unitarian Church of Lincoln, where it will remain until Sunday, Oct. 15.
People who stop by the Pulse Tribute Tour are encouraged to write a tribute message.
“We want people to write a tribute message, like if you were to say something to the victims, or if you want a message to be carried from this tour,” Pyle said. “People can write whatever message they feel like they want to write.”
Nocito mails out the materials for the Pulse Tribute Tour to anyone who submits a request for them. The materials included are the bags with the portraits on them, cardboard inserts to help the bags stand, a list of all of the victims’ names and information about the display. He suggested that people buy candles to put inside the bags to illuminate them.
“I think people really need to think about what kind of world they want to live in,” Tetreault said. “I want people to think about how to create a peaceful, loving and just world and work towards that, instead of a world where people would want to hurt people.”