Two organizations are partnering to remember the victims of a terrorist attack and hate crime one year and to look forward with serving their community in the future.
Forty-nine people died and and 58 were wounded when a single gunman attacked Pulse nightclub in Orlando Florida. Prairie Pride Coalition (PPC) Board President David Bentlin said during Sound Ideas, the shooting is a sort of 9/11 for the LGBTQ+ community.
"It came at a time when we thought we'd achieved at lot of rights," said Bentlin. "Freedom to marry, end of 'don't ask, don't tell,' a lot of advances in our community. At the same time that one incident was sort of an eye-opener that made us realize that we're not as safe as we thought we were and that there's always going to be discrimination and hatred and violence toward our community and we need to respond."
The PPC and Not in Our Town Bloomington-Normal are responding with an LGBTQ+ friendly business directory. Bentlin said most of the businesses were recruited through Facebook, although members of the LGBTQ+ community already had a pretty good idea of who should be in the guide. Bentlin said there was no push back and no one said they didn't want to be in the directory.
"It says we can no longer call Bloomington-Normal a conservative community and just leave it at that," said Bentlin. "I think there are certain issues where this is a conservative community, but I believe on social issues that more and more this is becoming a progressive community, where people have a live and let live attitude and they want to see people treated fairly and justly."
"I'm impressed everyday in most ways with Bloomington-Normal. The fact that both Mayors have introductory pieces in this directory, it's a firm position that a lot of elected officials might be afraid to make," said Martin Ross with Not in Our Town."
The directory is available at area businesses and organizations listed in the guide. Business are identified as gay-friendly with a rainbow window cling for the storefront door or window. Bentlin said he thinks the guide may demonstrate the community's buying power to the business owner.
The guide will also be available at the PPC's website.
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