In the wake of a mass shooting at a prominent gay club in Orlando, San Francisco’s LGBT community is reaching out to offer help and hope.
The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a self-described order of queer, radical nuns who made their first group appearance in San Francisco in 1979, is reaching out to its order in Orlando following the mass shooting there at Pulse nightclub early Sunday morning.
“I’ve been talking to some of their leadership,” said Sister Anni Coque l’Doo, the group’s abbess in San Francisco. “We know most of the members of their house are safe; we’re trying to get confirmation that there isn’t anyone we’re not aware of.”
A gunman wielding an assault-type rifle and a handgun opened fire inside the crowded nightclub early Sunday, killing at least 50 people before dying in a gunfight with SWAT officers, police said. It was the worst mass shooting in American history.
Coque l’Doo said she was still in shock upon hearing news of the shooting Sunday morning.
“I immediately turned to my community members to see if they needed anything. I go into a support mode, and I go to support as many as I can in this process of grief, and help vocalize the anger if they want it to get out.”
Coque l’Doo said Sisters’ organizations across the country are ramping up efforts to donate blood, and are researching where best to send donations to help those in Orlando affected by the shooting.
The Sisters will host a “Beer Bust” at SF Eagle, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., which will in part raise money for Orlando, Coque l’Doo said.
The shooting occurred during Pride month. San Francisco’s Pride celebration and parade are scheduled for June 25 and 26.
“Being Pride month, I think we need to remember it’s a battle,” Coque l’Doo said. “We need to make sure we’re here to support one another. The sisters bring universal joy, that’s one of our main mission statements.”
The shooting in Orlando has chilled many in San Francisco. Jordan Gwendolyn Davis is a San Franciscan who identifies as a transgender lesbian. She said, “I have family in Florida, it makes me not want to travel there for my own safety.”
Tom Ammiano, a former California assemblymember who was a contemporary of the late gay rights pioneer, Harvey Milk, posted to Facebook on Sunday, “The hardest thing to do right now is take a step back, to grieve, to plan, everything is so raw, I want to lash out, but know violence can’t beat violence…our freedom comes at a high price almost unbearable but Harvey Milk who paid that price knew that we could weather this, pay homage and move forward.”
Coque l’Doo said the Sisters are extending sympathy and standing in solidarity with the victims of Florida’s shooting.
“We can show we’re here for them. That we feel their pain, that we feel the rally cry that’s happening right now. In our LGBT community and the community as a whole, a sister city,” Coque l’Doo said.