Local LGBTQ community reacts to Orlando massacre

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COLUMBIA -  Local LGBTQ community members are remembering the 49 lives lost Sunday morning in Orlando.

Howard Hutton, the father of a transgender child, said the attack hit him harder than normal.

"It just hurts," he said. "No matter what marginalized group it is, it just you walk around all day...it's tough."

Hutton said the community reaction to the events was quick and comforting.

"It was really awesome to see so many organizations and a lot of people right away know that we had to come out and unite and grieve and celebrate the people who we lost," Hutton said.

Hutton is a coordinator at The Center Project and said he sees people in Missouri becoming more open to the LGBTQ community.

"That kind of hate, and fear bred into some people is fortunately going away," he said.

Michelle Scott-Huffman, a pastor at the Table of Grace Church in Jefferson City, said attacks like the one in Orlando can be detrimental to mental health the LGBTQ community.

"There are people who are targeted all their lives and you think about, particularly in the gay community, there aren't many places that we can call ours," Huffman said.

She said, many times in communities, a gay club or bar is a safe space.

"I will liken it to someone walking into a church and opening fire. It's that safe sanctuary and those social places for LGBTQ people that have been there all this time. If those places become unsafe, then people tend to kind of draw back and stay in their own shell," Huffman said.

She also said she has seen a lot of fear from others.

"This is pride month. Normally people would be going out and be celebrating within their communities with pride parades but people are afraid to just go out and be in those spaces right now," Huffman said. 

She said, however, the tragedy is a wake up call.

"Any sort of tragedy like this brings us closer together as humans," Huffman said. "It helps us understand the different ways we need to be in solidarity with one another, the different ways we need to be looking out for each other and the different place where we are all vulnerable and it just opens up a place for dialogue that may not be happening in some places."