Hundreds mourn in vigil held at Valley AIDS Council

HARLINGEN — Hundreds gathered here last night for a vigil to mourn those who were slain in a gay nightclub in Orlando.

More than 400 people showed up to light a candle and stand in solidarity for gay rights.

The vigil was sponsored and organized by the South Texas Equality Project, or STEP, a network of 50 organizations in the Valley that support the LGBT community.

“We understand how the gay community in the Valley is affected by the violence in Orlando because they specifically targeted Latino gays,” said Oscar Lopez, STEP president.

Lopez said the vigil was organized out of respect for the LGBT community and for those who lost their loved ones in the largest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

Harlingen resident Klarissa Flores, 25, said she feels attacks on gays will just get worse.

Flores held back her tears as she said the tragedy occurred just days before the anniversary of her marriage to her wife. She said she married her wife soon after Texas recognized the legality of gay marriage.

“Our condolences are extended to every family and every friend who lost somebody in the mass shooting,” Lopez said. “We really want the gay and lesbian, transsexual community to know they’re not alone.”