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Long Beach and LGBT Network to hold memorial for nightclub victims

The LGBT Network held a news conference at Long Beach City Hall on Thursday, June 1, 2017. Long Beach will host the Long Island Pride on the Beach Festival June 9 to June 11. Organizers will be memorializing the one-year anniversary of Orlando, Florida's Pulse Nightclub shooting that killed 49. Randy Jones, best-known as the Cowboy in the Village People, also spoke at the news conference. Credit: News 12 Long Island

The Long Island LGBT Network and Long Beach officials announced Thursday that they will hold a beachside memorial service next week to mark the one-year anniversary of the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting that killed 49 people.

Organizers announced the memorial with nightclub survivor Javier Nava, who was shot in the stomach on the night of June 11 last year in the largest mass shooting in U.S. history.

“After the tragedy, it’s very important that all around the world, they hear our voices,” said Nava, who lives in Orlando. “It’s hard when you’ve lost your friends.”

The memorial is being planned in conjunction with the Long Island Pride on the Beach festival planned in Long Beach from June 9 to June 11.

City officials and Nava raised the city flag and rainbow flag Thursday afternoon at City Hall. Organizers said it marked the first time the rainbow flag has flown at a government building on Long Island.

The Sunday memorial planned for the final day of the festival will include a paddle into the ocean by 49 surfers, each wearing an armband for the Orlando victims. They will form a circle as visitors gathered on the beach throw flowers into the ocean.

LGBT Network president David Kilmnick said that, despite strides made by the LGBT community, groups fighting for the rights of immigrants and women remain under attack. He noted that the White House has not issued a proclamation for June being Pride Month.

“We know the fight still remains ahead. We’re living in a different world now than last year,” Kilmnick said. “The current administration has made it clear that anyone that is different should be on alert to potentially lose their rights that have been won.”

Organizers are holding Long Island Pride in Long Beach for the first time in 27 years after it was previously held in Huntington.

Past festivals have drawn as many as 18,000 people for one day in Huntington, but Long Beach officials do not have a crowd estimate for the weekend.

Organizers say every hotel is booked for the weekend and visitors are expected from 14 states and Canada. Shuttles will be provided to the beach and boardwalk festival from South Shore communities.

The festival is being paid for with a $300,000 state grant, half of which will go to the city for expenses. The Sunday program will also include a concert on the beach with “Fight Song” singer Rachel Platten.

The Pride Parade on June 11 down Broadway will feature the Nassau and Suffolk police departments for the first time and will also feature Boy Scouts marching.

Long Beach City Manager Jack Schnirman said the city is progressive and inclusive for all groups. The city recently changed its policy manual to protect transgender employees.

“We are a community of tremendous diversity and opportunity. We’re a community of fairness,” Long Beach City Council president Len Torres said. “We’re showing we believe in human rights and civic rights and everyone’s right on Earth to enjoy this beautiful city.”

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