ORLANDO, Fla. – When Keinon Carter walked up to the interim Pulse memorial with a big bouquet of flowers on Friday, four years after the Orlando nightclub shooting claimed 49 lives, you would have never guessed he was shot twice, including in his leg.
“It’s a day-by-day process,” he said. “I’m living so I’m blessed. That’s all I can say. I take it one step at a time, day by day.”
Carter was one of 53 injured in the Pulse nightclub shooting the night of June 12, 2016. Forty-nine others, including his friend Antonio Brown, were killed in the tragedy. Carter, back at the scene with flowers not only for Brown but for all the lives lost, said even four years later, it isn’t getting easier.
“I’m numb, every year I’m numb,” Carter said.
This year, he said is especially hard as a black man who is also part of the LGBTQ community.
“George Floyd’s death is tragic to us all and it kind of brings right back to what happened at Pulse,” Carter said nearly in tears. “It’s just the lost of someone dear. If it’s not me, he’s dear to someone else. I can always just relate.”
Carter wants Central Florida to remember not only the lives lost that night, but how our community and the world came together in the days after the attack.
"The world came together and I feel like we need to be on that path, in that moment, doing the same thing right now," he said. "Don't lead with hate. You understand what I'm saying? Shoot love, not hate. That's all I can say."
Pulse nightclub owner Barbara Poma can understand how this year could be especially difficult for some survivors.
“For the black LGBTQ community it’s double hard,” Poma said. “We have been saying ‘We will not let hate win’ for four years and I think we need to remember to continue to say that in every aspect of the word and that means for every inequity that exists. We have to make sure hate ends.”