Bloomington Gay Rights Advocate: 'Feeling Hopeful' | WGLT

Bloomington Gay Rights Advocate: 'Feeling Hopeful'

Jun 13, 2016

Credit Tim Evanson / Flickr

In the wake of the deadly terror attack at a gay nightclub in Orlando one leader in the gay community said he's feeling hopeful.

David Bentlin is the President of the Prairie Pride Coalition Board. The group is dedicated to the implementation of full civil rights protections for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people.

"I am struck by the number of straight supporters who have come out in this community to support our local community to show their allegiance and solidarity and to be with us and support us through all of this," said Bentlin. "I imagine tonight at our vigil there will be a good number of straight supporters as well as large number of the LGBTQ community."

The vigil begins at 7 PM Monday evening in front of the Bistro nightclub  in Downtown Bloomington. There will be a walk around the courthouse square to Withers Park for a short program.

During GLT's Sound Ideas, Bentlin acknowledged that the attack in Orlando occured at a place where gay people feel the safest.

"The LGBTQ community early on especially received a lot of support from the gay bar culture because there were so few places we that could go where we could feel welcome, and accepted, and comfortable," said Bentlin.

Bentlin said he thinks heightened election year rhetoric directed at Hispanics and Muslims is possibly encouraging extreme elements to take that extra step toward irrationality and violence.

"There's an environment where it seems to be less wrong to publicly berate, minimize, or discriminate against people, whether it's based on their sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, any number of things," said Bentlin. "It seems in a lot of ways there's an open season."

June is Gay Pride Month and Bentlin thinks the events in Orlando will leave its mark on the month.

"It'll be hard at first to overcome this date for a lot of people. I don't want us to be defined by what happened. but I want us to be defined by what we do in response to that and be galvanized by it."