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Many gathered in Lander park for Lander Pride in honor of the 49 lives lost in Orlando, Florida

Today was not only Pride for Lander, but the anniversary of the legalization of equality for Wyoming when same sex couples were allowed to unite in marriage.

Booths were set up with many different rainbow, colored items. On display were shirts, stickers, pamphlets, and even private, disclosed tents for HIV screening.

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Community planner Liz Hardwick, welcomed the crowd, offering that all enjoy the food, company, and the booths set up. One particular booth was ‘We Are Orlando’ in remembrance of the 49 lives lost in the tragic shooting at Pulse Night Club in Orlando Florida.

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Two spirit individual Layha Spoonhunter spoke in honor of the LGBT community, “I came out in 2014,” he said, “I am a proud Two Spirit member of both the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes. With the Orlando tragedy, our community found ourselves filled with sadness, grief, and anger from what happened there in Orlando, and with this tragedy, our community has strengthened, and I believe love will conquer hate.”

Layha Spoonhunter is a community activist who uses his strong voice and noble character to create both unity, and divide change.  

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After the heartfelt speech, the lives lost in Orlando were remembered one by one by the strike of a gong by Lander resident Willie Cunnigham. He was asked after, what the representation of the gong meant. He said, “every culture has a gong for either ritual, meditation, or communication and here it was used to honor the lives lost in Orlando Florida.” A moment of silence and stillness occurred as Cunnigham struck the gong in 3 second intervals. Many in the crowd held saddened emotions from knowing the Florida tragedy brought on a transformation of grief and similarity to the 1998 Matthew Shepard hate crime.

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Once the gong struck 50, those who were comfortable doing so, then gathered for a group photo taken by the many journalists and reporters who were in attendance.

Lander Pride is an event that is held annually in Lander, this year they wanted to be sure that Orlando knew they were cared for, all the way here in Fremont County. 

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