Visalia LGBT center and pride event overwhelmed with support

VISALIA, Calif. (KFSN) -- In the wake of the tragedy in Orlando, something positive came to Visalia.

Organizers of an LGBT pride rally in Visalia had to cancel it in the wake of the Orlando massacre but not because of security concerns. It was because so many people wanted to attend the event in support, it would have overwhelmed the tiny venue.

"It's a strange thing to feel," organizers said. "It's wonderful in some kind of bizarre way."

The last 48 hours have been filled with prayer for the victims of the massacre.

"I think the community has felt this sort of snowball effect of wanting to support and wanting to come out and be visible," director of The Source LGBT+ Center Brian Poth said.

Since the mass shooting, members of the center say they've been overwhelmed with support.

So much that it's even affecting a pride month barbeque they've been planning for weeks.

"We noticed in the last couple of days the RSVP's started going up," treasurer Nick Vargas explained. "Even on a conservative basis, we were going to have 300 to 400 people as of today."

The tiny venue won't cut it. So, they have to postpone the event.

While a canceled barbeque might not seem like a reason to celebrate. For some, it's making all the difference.

"To see that switch like 180 degrees over the last couple of decades and, certainly, around this terrible event is really touching," Poth said.

Security is a concern for the future event they're planning, but they say it's not because of the mass shooting.

"We are concerned about that violence," Poth said. "But as a community, we are not strangers to that violence."

"We feel such a sense of loss and a sense of security that were beginning to feel in the world but we will persevere," said Cheryl Waymack of Visalia.

They plan to have an event sometime this summer and make it into a true pride festival.

However, the Pride Bike Run scheduled for Saturday morning is still going on as planned.
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