An open letter to Orlando city leaders regarding the Pulse nightclub

To Orlando mayor Buddy Dyer and The Honorable commissioners of the council,

For openers, this post is not meant as a rebuke to anyone working for the city or in the LGBTQ community. I mean no disrespect.

I am just not certain purchasing the land where the Pulse nightclub currently sits is the best idea. I understand that turning the site into a memorial is an idea from people who have their heart in the right place.

But if it were up to me, I’d want the club to open again.

I recognize that my opinion might be a little awkward. I am fully aware of what happened there. I went to high school with one of the victims. Also, I work about a block away, although I was not in the neighborhood when Omar Mateen acted on his evil intentions.

My assertion comes from two beliefs. The first: We often hear that when loved ones pass, they would want us to go on with life — to be happy, to appreciate beauty, to laugh, grow, and to dance. It is a hunch that would be the wish of the victims. 

True, there is at least one more LGBTQ club in Orlando. But I come from cities that have many more than one. I moved to central Florida from Hollywood, Calif. As you might imagine, there is a thriving community in that area. I’ve been in those clubs. I’ve seen more problems in other clubs, so perhaps bringing back the Pulse is more of a benefit to Orlando.

The second reason I think the Pulse should reopen is a bit primal. It’s not that everything President George W. Bush said was correct about the so-called war on terror, but I believe that having fewer LGBTQ clubs in Orlando does give the terrorists a victory. I do believe in an afterlife. I want Mateen — wherever he is right now — to realize that he did his worst and it did not benefit his twisted cause.

I want there to be a reopened Pulse with its patrons happy. I want that to be a figurative middle finger to Mateen, that he learns the depths of the failure of his ill-conceived principles. I want his dispicable acts to be a complete loss to him and those who harbor the same sickness at the core of their beings.

Perhaps the Pulse owners take the money — I don’t have an issue with the price tag reported — and use it to open a new Pulse at a different site. If that’s the result, so be it.

There’s a meme. I don’t know who created it, but it altered the logo of the club into a rainbow-flag themed heart. Underneath included the words, “We aren’t going anywhere.”

Well, don’t.

“So James, how close do you work to the place that got attacked?”

That close.

To be clear, I don’t work here every day. My employer sends me all over Central Florida. I wasn’t here when Omar Mateen screamed “Allahu akbar” and blasphemed his faith, and I don’t want to make a big political argument about guns or militant Islam.

I just want to keep things simple and tell you what’s been going on it Orlando.

The FBI has left, but the police are keeping the actual plot of land secure and there are still news vans in the area. When the FBI was here, blocks of downtown were locked down. People created their makeshift memorials as close as the authorities would allow — such as this one:

I previously wrote that I had no idea Pulse was an LGBT club, not that it mattered. I have purchased donuts for ungrateful coworkers at the shop next door.

I knew one of the deceased, albeit very little. I knew people who ran when they heard gunfire.

Billboards across the city rotate flashing hashtag affirmations about how strong we are and how we are united and have pride. Maybe we do. We no longer appear to be in shock. Considering much of this area is based on tourism, and therefore weren’t actual Orlando residents, how shocked were we in the first place? The Florida Mall was pretty full the day after the attack.

To be frank, I would prefer #OrlandoSafe to #Orlando(whatever), but I can’t see that happening anytime soon.