Susan Young | June 13, 2016 12:00 PM ET
Hatred Can't Define Orlando
Almost ten years ago, when my husband retired, we decided to move to the beach, after living in Orlando most of our lives. We loved the city but were ready for a change of pace and were tired of the traffic issues that go along with a growing tourist haven. New Smyrna Beach, just an hour from the city, on the east coast, was our choice and we soaked up the friendliness of the town and the ocean breezes. We loved our neighbors and the laid back vibe of “Margaritaville”.
As the years progressed, we found ourselves returning to Orlando every chance we got and realized we needed something from this city that a beach town couldn’t provide…diversity. After seven years we sold the house and headed back to the City Beautiful, driving along congested, construction-laden Interstate 4, all the while feeling we had come home.
Not meaning to denigrate New Smyrna Beach, but year after year we would look around and see not only an ocean of blue green but a sea of white people…without the benefit that a variety of demographics brings to a community. Returning to the “big city” we were energized by the diverse population that makes downtown Orlando so popular with so many different ages, races and gender preferences. It’s a proverbial melting pot where, for the most part, everyone gets along.
Hearing the news of the massacre which took place last night made my heart heavy to think that others, throughout the world, might think this act is representative of what our city stands for. The fact that a gay nightclub was targeted in this, such a gay-friendly town, is mind-boggling and horrific. This reprehensible crime is not who we are.
One could go into a political rant against gun violence, homophobia and religious zealotry but, for now, we need to help Orlando heal and let the rest of the world know we are a welcoming community that won’t let this act of hatred define us.
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