As the world began to process the terribly sad news that 49 people, mostly gay and many persons of color, were killed as they socialized and danced in Orlando, a fraction of a minority of humanity’s darkest corners thought the opportunity was right to celebrate.
Around the campus of Oxford University in the U.K., some of these unfortunate souls chose to exercise their right to express themselves; preachers set up shop on Cornmarket Street in Oxford’s main pedestrian area to cry out to anyone who would listen that the victims of the Orlando attack deserved their fates because of who they were.
But if there’s one positive takeaway from the days following this devastating loss, it’s that love trumps hate, always.
It didn’t take long for word to spread around the college town, and counter-protesters showed up in droves to drown out the hate with hope. What was the scene of vitriol and fear became one of music and love.
Jack Remmington (above left, posing in front of his new best friend), a participant in the impromptu demonstration, tells Queerty, “There were four of five of them — a couple of Americans, a Scot and a Brit I think. They had microphones and placards. We became aware as word spread and people posted photos. There were then opposition demonstrations from queers with accordions and trumpets to drown them out.”
That was enough to get the preachers to leave their first position.
“They moved location due to the small protest so a group and I walked over to where we thought they would be and I suggested we all sit on the steps where they were speaking,” Remmington explains. “We then began singing some songs like ‘Don’t Stop Believing,’ ‘Bohemian Rhapsody,’ and ‘Wonderwall.’ I also shared a photo of us dancing with the location so others could come and join. I would say eventually over one hundred people were involved, and it steadily grew as word spread around Oxford.”
Too often the fervent and fearful, whose numbers pale in comparison to everyone else trying to live their peaceful lives in pursuit of connection, suck up all the oxygen in the room by virtue of their seemingly bottomless well of passion. It’s nice to see the equation flip.
“I just wish I’d known earlier in the day and I’d have worn short shorts…” Remmington adds as an afterthought. You and us both, Jack.