Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake isn’t gay. Or bisexual. Or transgender.
But she has coined a phrase to let people know she stands in solidarity with members of the LGBT community who are devastated by the shootings at a gay nightclub in Orlando last weekend.
“I’m LGBT-adjacent,” she told the hundreds of area residents who gathered at the Ynot Lot on Charles Street for a vigil to remember the victims of the Pulse nightclub shootings, where 50 died and 53 were wounded. It was the third local vigil or memorial service in the last two days and by far the largest, overflowing onto Charles Street.
Addressing the crowd, Rawlings-Blake said she decided to scrap the remarks that were prepared for her so she could say what’s on her mind. She started by explaining how someone who isn’t lesbian or gay or bisexual or transgender can show support for those who are, as she did during the campaign for marriage equality in Maryland.
“I looked around at some of my friends during the [campaign for] marriage equality,” she said. “You know, everyone had those t-shirts. LGBT-supporter, you know, all that stuff. I’m just a little different. I couldn’t be called what everybody else was called, so I said I was going to be LGBT-adjacent, because I’m right next to you. I’m standing right here next to you. And I want you to know that I love you, and I want you to love yourself.”
Then Rawlings-Blake spoke about killings in Orlando and what Baltimore can do.
“This type of hate, it, I think, it, people that perpetuate this type of hate, want us to hate ourselves, want you to hate yourself. Don’t do it. Don’t give in to that… I want you to love yourself. I want you to know that you are loved…and don’t let anybody tell you any different.
“So we are here today in a ministry of presence in hoping that that ministry reaches our brothers and sisters in Orlando, so they know that they are not alone, that they have teams of people, teams of people who have felt that pain, felt that hurt, have known someone who has been a victim of such violence. That we stand with them. That we pray with them. And when all the cameras leave, because, you know, I’ve been there too. The cameras show up for the, you know, the crisis. When it’s healing time, when the real work has to be done, you know, I’m just going to say, maybe they’ll show up, maybe they won’t. But we’re going to be there whether the cameras are there or not…
“I know it’s going to get tough. There are going to be people that are going to feel weak, they’re going to be tired… they’re going to need this ministry of presence even more. And that’s when I am going to know that each and every one of you will do whatever we need to do as a community to support the LGBT community in Orlando and the city of Baltimore…I want to thank you because this ministry of presence doesn’t happen without each and every one of you being present. Thank you for showing up in a way that I know that Baltimore can. I love you.”