• James Armstrong

Raising the rainbow flag in Hudson in memory of Orlando tragedy


Candles flickered in the wind while the lives of the 49 people killed in Orlando were remembered in Hudson’s Jack Layton Park.

As a rainbow slowly faded into the evening sky above the Ottawa River, a group of about 30 people of all ages gathered in Hudson’s Jack Layton Park Friday, June 17. They were there to remember and pay homage to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning (LGBTQ) people killed and injured in an Orlando, Florida bar the previous Sunday.

Despite the wind, candles were lit and the vigil began. “We are here to remember them,” said organizer Melinda Paradis before quietly reading the names of the 49 people that had died. “We need to remember their names because their lives and their love mattered. They died in their place of sanctuary and they died celebrating their love,” she said adding that four couples had died together.

A moment of silence ended as the strains of “Orlando (Keep Dancing)” composed and recorded by Kristie Stremel floated on the evening air.

“I wanna hold my lover’s hand, without fear

Of an unexpected fist coming out of nowhere

This one cuts deep, the nightmares explode

Bullets and blood and the last phone calls

Fear turns to fury, inconsolable grief

Our brothers and sisters, down on their knees

They waged war while we were dancing, singing of peace” sang Stremel.

The evening ended with individuals sharing thoughts, stories of their lives, and expressing the hope that this coming together to remember would provide the impetus for more supportive LGBTQ community events.

To hear a recording of Stremel’s song, consult www.kristiestremel.bandcamp.com.

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