LGBTQ community, supporters hold vigil for Orlando "Pulse" night club victims in Bakersfield

Posted at 11:15 PM, Jun 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-16 02:22:25-04

Hundreds gathered in downtown Bakersfield Wednesday night to remember the lives of those who died in the Orlando nightclub shooting. 

Men, women and children gathered at the Gay and Lesbian Center of Bakersfield with signs, candles and flowers. 

"I just want them to know they're not alone," said Moises Duran, who helped organize the vigil. 

The group marched down Q St then to Truxtun Avenue, before stopping at the Liberty Bell in front of the Kern County courthouse. 

"Even though we're not on the east coast, we're still connected because they're either LGBTQ -- they're still our community," said Daniel Landeros who attended the vigil. 

Signs with names and stories of each person who was killed in the night club were held on stage while all 49 victim names were read aloud. 

"When we think about it, it could've happened to any of us. Any of us could've been targeted," said Duran. 

Many of those in attendance said it was important for the LGBTQ community to gather together to help each other heal. 

"The LGBT community is grieving, a lot of people are angry, upset and it was important to come out and show support to those people who are upset," said Robert Peterson who attended the vigil and is the vice president of Pflag Bakersfield. 

Several people spoke at the vigil, including Mayor Harvey Hall. Mayor Hall said he was glad to see such a large group supporting the victims of Orlando and told the crowd he sent a letter to the mayor of Orlando. 

"I wanted the mayor of Orlando to know that we are so sorry and our condolences are expressed letting them know that our city council, and our mayor are with them," said Mayor Hall. 

Throughout the vigil speakers called for stricter gun control and more support for the LGBTQ community. Many of those who gathered at the vigil said they're sticking together and moving forward.

"We're not going back in the closet, we are not going to fear, we are going to embrace who we are and we're going to fight for what we deserve," said Duran. 

The LGBTQ community is still planning more fundraisers to help support the victims in Orlando. On Thursday there will be a fundraiser at Panda Express on Stockdale and California Avenue and on Saturday there will be a fundraiser at Casablanca Night Club.