Tonight, Wisconsin state representative JoCasta Zamarripa, District 12 alderman José Pérez, and others will meet in a Walker’s Point park a week after 49 lives were lost in the Pulse Orlando shooting, a direct attack on LGBT+ people and the deadliest mass shooting in American history. The We Are Orlando Vigil is just one way Milwaukee has come together to honor and support the men and women killed or otherwise impacted by the attack that took place states away. Thousands came together in solidarity Sunday at the Milwaukee Pride Parade and during PrideFest Milwaukee’s final day. The following day, a gigantic rainbow flag draped from Milwaukee City Hall during a vigil attended by hundreds.
As the country mourns and strives to move past the tragedy, Milwaukee continues to show its support in both personal and financial ways. Sunday night, the Cool & Tight comedy showcase will come to People’s Books in Riverwest. The show was quickly put together by Chicago comedian and Milwaukee native Sammy Arechar, who wanted to do his part to raise money for survivors of the Pulse shooting.
“I just feel it’s important to build a sense of community, no matter how distant you are,” Arechar says. “It’s nice to know that everyone is willing to help when they can and that, generally, we’re all looking out for each other.”
Joining Arechar are comedians Ton Johnson, Dana Ehrmann, Ashley Huck, Prateek Srivastava, A.J. Grille, Danny Felts, and K.C. Michelson, all of whom are donating their time. Though Cool & Tight is usually a free show, Arechar is asking for a $5 donation, all of which will go to the cause. Arechar suggests those who cannot attend donate to Equality Florida’s GoFundMe campaign supporting victims of the Pulse shooting.
Cactus Club will also get involved. On Wednesday night, the bar will host Patti’s Playhouse, a “queer dance party, drag, and variety show” featuring Patty Longlegs (and other drag performers) along with DJs Max Holiday and Liquid City Motors. The bar will donate 25 percent of Wednesday night’s sales to Pulse survivors and families of victims. Cactus Club manager Kelsey Kaufmann feels the establishment has a responsibility to look out for its LGBT+ clientele, as well as those in Orlando.
“We want to be a community venue beyond just a bar, and we’re proud of the resilience of our queer community,” Kaufmann says. “The Orlando massacre hit home in an obviously devastating way. Donating part of our sales for Patti’s Playhouse, a monthly queer party, is a tiny way that we can demonstrate our support for those affected in Florida.”
Though shrouded in sadness and an overwhelming feeling of helplessness for an attack that impacted so many strangers on the other side of the country, some Milwaukeeans have taken it upon themselves show their support in whatever way they can. While these gestures are small and won’t bring back those lives lost in last weekend’s atrocities, it’s at least a step in the right direction, and a shred of good in the aftermath of such a terrible occurrence.
If you know any more Pulse vigils or benefits in or around Milwaukee, please leave details in the comments.