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Gay clubs are sanctuaries, N.Y. Liberty guard Shavonte Zellous writes in aftermath of Pulse shooting

The Orlando native talks about what the Pulse killings mean to her sense of freedom and security.

Shavonte Zellous
Shavonte Zellous

Shavonte Zellous, an openly gay guard with the WNBA's New York Liberty and Orlando native, has written a powerful essay in The Players' Tribune about the meaning for her of the mass killings at the Pulse nightclub.

Gay clubs are more than places where people dance and drink. They are sanctuaries. They are communities. Gay clubs are where many go to find themselves or be themselves or commune with others like themselves, away from the judgment of the world outside.

If you’ve never understood a bar as a refuge, then maybe you’ve never felt the fear of showing affection to someone in public.

In a club’s darkness, there’s freedom. With freedom of self comes something like light. Out of light comes love.

But on Sunday morning, people hid away in the dark corners of Pulse, fearing for their life. The gunman used the darkness to his advantage — another weapon to perpetuate fear. ...

The gunman didn’t take just the lives of 49 people; he stole something from the entire LGBTQ community. Where can we go that’s still free — that allows us to be ourselves without fear?

Zellous' sister was on her way to Pulse on Saturday night when she changed her mind. This decision saved her life, but the three friends she was meeting there died in the attack.

My sister was just a young person on her way to express herself freely in a space where she thought she was safe to do so. Just like the victims at Pulse.

It had been the same for me years ago, as a gay person just coming into myself. Only, the Parliament House was my Pulse.

This might be the first time Zellous has been public about her sexual orientation, but hers is a clear and proud voice. You should read the whole article.