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Pride in Places: An LGBTQ+ nightclub built in Orlando to celebrate life became the scene of the largest mass shooting in modern American history

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Pulse with her husband in 2004 to honor her late brother John who passed from AIDS in 1991. It was a business proposal pitched to them by their best friend at the time, whose dream was to open an LGBTQ+ nightclub in Orlando.

Poma saw it as an opportunity to pay tribute to a community she grew up in, choosing the name “Pulse” to remember her brother’s heart that kept beating through her acts of love and service.Orlando’s queer community found their own beat within the nightclub, which quickly became one of the few unencumbered, safe spaces in the area where all felt seen and accepted.

Poma tells GayCities that the influence of her brother’s queerness and passing changed the trajectory of her life, so she felt determined to create a space that just wasn’t another gay bar but somewhere queer folks would feel encouraged to bring their families.“I was dancing at TDance on Fort Lauderdale Beach and spending the day on the gay beaches way before I should have been.

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