LGBTQ Activists remember Orlando nightclub shooting two years later

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) -- Two years ago a gunman opened fire in an Orlando nightclub killing 49 people and sending dozens more to the hospital. Some local LGBTQ members are remembering those victims and how that incident has impacted the community nationwide.

Florida Governor Rick Scott has declared June 12th Pulse Remembrance Day in Florida but many people in the stateline are reflecting back on that night that shook the entire LGBTQ society.

"It was horrific. So much an attack,” said member of PFLAG Rockford Curt McKay.

Two years ago a gunman killed nearly 50 people inside a gay nightclub in Orlando. Now many local advocates are remembering that day and the deadliest attack against LGBTQ people in US history.

"People being just slaughtered just because of who they were was so horrific,” said McKay.

Curt McKay is a member of PFLAG Rockford, a local advocacy group for LGBTQ people. He believes the Pulse massacre had a huge impact on the LGBTQ population.

"Some people were forced back into closets or hesitated about coming out because they were afraid."

"The reality is now we have to wonder if we are going to be harmed in these places that are supposed to be meant for fun, expression,” said community activist Skye Garcia.

Since the deadly shooting many advocates say it has brought so many people together and helped some become more accepting of the LGBTQ society.

"I've seen a lot of people coming together and realizing that the only way we're going to stay safe is if we have each other’s backs,” said Garcia.

"More people went out to say you cannot scare us, you simply are not going to do this to us again,” said McKay.

Some LGBTQ members say some progress has been made it when it comes to equality but they will continue to fight for those lives lost two years ago.

"One of the things that makes a difference in changing people’s viewpoints is finding out being LGBTQ isn’t so different from being straight person me,” said McKay.

In Orlando a bell tolled 49 times for the pulse victims as family members placed rainbow colored pinwheels in their honor. Across the country many activists staged "die-ins" to call for stricter gun laws.