Normally, a building or monument lit up in the vivid colors of the rainbow is a sign of celebration, jubilation, equality.
Last night (and likely during nights to come), the kaleidoscopic light displays illuminating these structures — structures both instantly recognizable across the world and only more regionally famous — will serve as a somber sign of solidarity with the city of Orlando, Florida, and the global LGBT community.
Orlando, Florida’s fourth largest city, is best known as being home to Walt Disney World and a host of other theme parks. During the early hours of Sunday morning, normally sunshine-y Orlando was plunged into darkness when a lone gunman entered Pulse, a popular gay nightclub, and opened fire.
By late Sunday morning, the tragic details of what transpired inside of Pulse began to emerge. In an unspeakable act of evil cut short by the heroics of first responders, the gunman had killed 49 people and injured 53 other club patrons, many of whom are still struggling to survive. It is the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history,
While there are the immediate victims of the massacre, there are also victims beyond those who lost their lives: friends, family members, the wounded, those who viewed Pulse as a lifeline and safe haven.
During times like these, when those directly and indirectly impacted by such a horrific event might be feeling vulnerable and confused, it helps to pause for a moment and tune out the partisan bickering — that crazy-making and anger-inducing noise — and look at photographs of buildings and monuments.
Architectural landmarks, many already beautiful and evocative without special lighting, made even more beautiful by the rainbow — a potent symbol of hope, acceptance, individuality and, most importantly, strength and perseverance against all odds.
And even when these multi-hued light displays are switched off and the rainbow flags are eventually retired (likely not anytime soon considering that it is Pride Month in the U.S.), it also helps to keep in mind that, in the end, love does indeed win.