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Anxious Orlando LGBTs Await Word on Fate of Friends

Anxious Orlando LGBTs Await Word on Fate of Friends

Ellis Rosa

Trying to be brave in the middle of a nightmare.

ORLANDO -- Bodies of victims from the Orlando nightclub massacre still lay at the Pulse nearly a day after the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. Reports of cell phones ringing on bodies spread to worried family and friends, all anxious for answers. But as police work an active crime scene and the FBI leads an investigation into an act of terror, calls for information literally go unanswered.

"We don't want to assume anything yet. We don't know what has happened," said Naomi Freeman, a 35-year-old lesbian who knows friends were in the Pulse last night but still doesn't know how many got out alive. "There are still a lot of names that haven't been put out yet. We don't want to assume things. They could be ok, in the hospital or they could have passed on. We just don't know."

Lulu Delafalaise, L'Ange Blanc, 2015

Authorities confirm at least 50 were killed and another 53 injured, but through the day, media were told the number of fatalities would rise. But nearly a full 14 hours after the shooting, only 10 names had been released. And late into the evening, Freeman and wife Lulu (pictured above) awaited news at a senior center where family could wait inside for answers and friends could wait for word to travel to the outside pavilion.

Lulu said the tragedy has injected fear into any activity. "You don't want to be scared and don't want this to cause you to not want to go out and not be there for your friends and family, but as a mother I am scared," she said. "I want to of to a vigil, but I don't want to go to a vigil. I want to support my friends but I don't want to support my friends. It's scary."

But Naomi, who has lived in Orlando since 1989, said she has seen the community come together in ways never seen before. "This situation, as sad as it is, has brought Orlando closer," she said. "It doesn't matter what nationality or how you identify. When you put out a cry for help and thousands or people show up, that's amazing. That's the only good thing to come out of this today."

Also at the center, 28-year-old gay man Ellis Rosa (pictured, top image) who awaited word on two friends he danced with in professional troupes. Rosa left his high school reunion early Sunday after hearing of the shooting. He received a call earlier saying that one friend, Christopher Sanfeliz, had died, but then was told later he was just taken to a hospital. He has no indication yet what his friend's condition may be.

"I didn't even know he was out here," Rosa said. "He was always willing to help someone. He was smiling, energetic, artistic; just a great guy. His roommate was also there and we have not heard back about him."

Rosa also awaits word on fellow dancer Xavier Serrano, and shows a picture of Serrano with his son. "I've been crying all day and I'm so exhausted I can't cry anymore," Rosa said. "It's been rough, and it's just the beginning."

And he fears this is just the start of violence against LGBT individuals in America. "It's opening the door for copycats," Rosa said. "I feel it's just the beginning of a new attack on our world. You don't hear on the news about a gay guy who started killing people. You just don't hear that."

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