Gay Clubs In Tulsa Honor Orlando Victims, Welcome Police Presence

Saturday, June 18th 2016, 10:54 pm
By: News On 6

The nation still is reeling. A week ago, a gunman killed 49 people inside a gay nightclub in Orlando. He injured another 50 people in the worst mass shooting in the nation's history.

The shooter declared his allegiance to ISIS during the shooting. He died in a firefight with police.

In Orlando on Saturday, funerals were held for many of the victims.

On the one-week anniversary of the shooting some local Tulsa bars are hosting benefits to raise money for the families of the victims.

Since then LGBT friendly bars around the area have been stepping up security to help make guests feel more comfortable.

While the gunman in Orlando claimed allegiance to ISIS, the fact is he targeted the gay community in what is the deadliest mass shooting hate crime in American history. That has some LGBT bars in Tulsa feeling scared for their safety. 

Fighting back tears - Bamboo manager David Burch is still feeling the pain caused by last week's mass shooting in Orlando.

“We've made so many strides in the last few years in the LGBT community,” Burch said.

But the shooting has been a terrifying reminder of the violence directed towards the LGBT community.

“That could have happened at my bar," Burch said.

Since the Orlando shooting, the Tulsa police chief has been making it his mission to make sure the LGBT community feels safe.

"We've had police presence here; we've had it all day Sunday,” Burch said.

New Age Renegade owner Russell Davison says police have visited his bar throughout the week.

“Stay here all night, and made sure that we felt that way,” Davison said. “We're secure. It's our community; this will not happen."

A welcomed relief to workers and guests.

“My entertainers -- from drag queens, to transgender, to straight, to lesbian, to gay -- they were like 'wow,'" he said.

Both Davison and Burch say police went over emergency plans with bar staff and will make regular rounds to make sure people are safe.

Still, the fear caused by the shooter in Orlando has the LGBT community on edge, but not enough to stop them from living their lives the way they want to.

“Am I Still going to hold my husband’s hand walking down the street? Yes,” Davison said.

Both Bamboo and New Age Renegade held candlelight vigils in honor of the victims. 

On Sunday, New Age Renegade is asking people to join them for a 'Karaoke for a Kause' to raise money for the Orlando victims' families. 

And Bamboo plans to hold another benefit next Saturday.