As speakers read the names and ages of 49 people who were killed in the Orlando nightclub shooting, a girl in a rainbow T-shirt collapsed, crying, into the arms of a friend.

A young woman sitting at the bottom of the steps at the Evangelical Reformed United Church of Christ put her head in her hands, struggling to hold back tears.

At the back of the crowd, Timmy Bodnar Jr. thought about his friend Edward Sotomayor Jr.

Sotomayor was among those killed in the mass shooting.

Bodnar, a Frederick resident, met Sotomayor a few years ago on a cruise from the Orlando area. Sotomayor worked for a travel agency there.

After hearing about the massacre, Bodnar tried in vain to get in touch with Sotomayor.

Sotomayor’s name was among the first the Orlando Police Department released in a list of victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting.

“We were stunned,” Bodnar said. “It still doesn’t seem real.”

More than 1,000 people came to the Frederick church for a vigil Tuesday night to express their sorrow, resilience and solidarity.

Bodnar brought photos of his friend Sotomayor. A few attendees brought rainbow flags; others brought homemade signs bearing the phrase “Gay Lives Matter” and lyrics to John Lennon’s song “Imagine.”

A somber Kristopher Fair, board chair of the Frederick Center, introduced each of the speakers at the vigil at a lectern, draped with a rainbow flag, at the top of the church’s front steps.

The Frederick Center serves the LGBT community by providing support and education as well as organizing events like the vigil.

The Rev. Rob Apgar-Taylor fired up the crowd with a defiant statement. Fair, he explained, had asked him to speak at the vigil, but he was unsure what to say.

“Do you want me to be a Christian pastor, or do you want me to be honest?” Apgar-Taylor said.

He chose honesty.

“I am damned angry, and I’m tired,” Apgar-Taylor said.

He serves as pastor at Grace United Church of Christ. As a gay man, he said, his heart is broken.

“I guess it’s too much to honor our deaths, when they don’t have the nerve to honor our lives,” he said.

The Rev. John Deckenback spoke on behalf of the Evangelical Reformed United Church of Christ.

“Today is Flag Day, and tragically, it is the vibrant colors of the rainbow that fly at half-staff,” Deckenback said.

Peter Brehm was one of many who attended the event. Brehm, a Frederick resident, has been a vocal member of the LGBT community.

“When we’re confronted by something as atrocious as this [shooting], we need to let the world know ... that we’re going to fight back. And we’re going to fight back with love,” Brehm said.

Taking action was a theme throughout the speakers’ remarks. Speakers at the vigil included Frederick Mayor Randy McClement, Rabbi Daniel Sikowitz, County Executive Jan Gardner, the Rev. Dr. Carl Gregg, Dr. Syed Haque and the Rev. Anjel Scarborough.

A church choir visiting from Louisville, Kentucky, sang “This Little Light of Mine.” Attendees held lit candles and waved their flags as they sang along.

But prayer, and lighting candles, won’t be enough to change the status quo, Apgar-Taylor said.

“I’m not lighting a candle so that God can change things,” he said. “I’m lighting a candle so that God can help me change things.”

Follow Sylvia Carignan on Twitter: @SylviaCarignan.

(18) comments

des21

That was a nice gesture.

corgikid

It was indeed but why desecrate our Flag with rainbow colors? That is not a unifying gesture. I find it insulting. But we our people were murdered by a Muslim who did it out of hate and for his god. Not mine but his. Islam and our Constitution are two incompatible documents and priniciples. That cannot be denied.

Nicki

I don't think the rainbow flag is a change to the U.S. flag, but a separate symbol altogether.
Why do you think it is a desecration?

M

shiftless88

Good job, Frederick!

Nicki

Nice to see Frederick responding to hate with love.

gdunn

Which will do nothing to combat the real problems and threats against the US.

Glen Shiel

Yeah, like I'm supposed to love my enemy as he detonates his suicide vest.

shiftless88

Well for the last 15 years we've been bombing the crap out of the middle east and arming our populace to the teeth so how is that working out?

phydeaux994

Wow, gdunn and Glen must have had miserable childhoods. Not a compassionate bone in their bodies. And exactly what are you two doing to combat the real problems and threats against the U.S.? Voting for Trump???

bosco

Muslim Extremists will only laugh at any love directed towards them. Love from infidels means nothing to them. They are more concerned with being a martyr for Allah and getting their 72 virgins in paradise.

gdunn

Has nothing to do with compassion. We can stand around blocking streets and holding candles every day, but it does nothing to attack the problem.

corgikid

Exactly. Islam is the enemy of the free world and we are the last stand. They hate women and gays. Obama is the most dangerous man in the world.

Nicki

I don't think the vigil meant to send out love to extremists. But to show love and support to those hurting from this tragedy, including peaceful, innocent Muslims in this country that have to live in fear due to the actions of a few.

phydeaux994

gdunn/Glen, the love from the group at the vigil was directed at those killed and their families, not the shooter. And I guess we can add corgikid to your group with no hearts. Never a pleasant word from you guys. [angry]

Nicki

What exactly is your hate doing to combat the real problems?

b1sellers

Actually corgi it is people who think like you that are the "most dangerous" people in the world.

bosco

Yeah, let's send 'em Valentines next year and see how that works out.

gdunn

As usual phydeaux994 makes incorrect assumptions.

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