Five years after the horrific mass shooting that killed 49 people at a nightclub in Orlando, Barbara Poma, who co-founded the inclusive gay nightclub “Pulse,” says the emotional trauma is still fresh.
According to People, Poma reveals the pain doesn’t let up. “For those of us who live it every day,” she says, “it does not get any easier.”
5 years ago, the mass shooting at Pulse was listed as the deadliest shooting by a single gunman in U.S. history. It is still the largest modern-day attack on the LGBTQ-plus community.
Now, as those affected prepare to commemorate the 5th anniversary today, with in-person, post-pandemic memorials, “it’s good to have events that are celebratory of life, that give people hope and inspiration,” Poma says, “and also, it’s important to give people time to reflect and lean in to how they’re feeling.”
The original “Pulse” nightclub was opened in honor of Poma’s late brother, who died in 1991.
Now with more than $20 million in hand, the onePULSE Foundation, with Poma at the helm as CEO, wants to honor the lives and legacy of those killed in the mass shooting.
Poma is now refining designs for a memorial estimated to cost upwards of $45 million, with no firm construction dates yet released. In addition, singer Ricky Martin was announced as national spokesman for the OUTLOVE HATE campaign to raise awareness and dollars for the effort last February.
This week, the U.S. Senate passed legislation designating the site a national memorial. This comes after having passed in the House of Representatives in May. The next step will be for measure to go before President Joe Biden, who is expected to sign it into law.
The foundation’s mission includes more than just building a memorial last month. They announced $236,300 in its second annual class of 49 “Legacy Scholarships.”
The scholarship awards for academic and career study directly reflect the wide variety of passions and interests of the 49 victims who lost their lives.
In years three and four, it became “too painful,” Poma said. “It was too much of a reminder. This year, I seem to be finding some better balance. But right now, I have no other alternative than to be there. So I’m there.”
“We don’t want what happened here ever forgotten,” she added.