It’s pretty impossible to shake Micah Jesse . Those familiar with him know that his positivity and sunny disposition is his almost constant state of being and what draws so many people in to share the light. That’s why when the celebrity host, producer, writer (He is now a vital member of NBC’s OUT), and my dear friend for many years couldn’t get out of bed on the day of June 12, 2016, I knew Micah was shaken to the core. But in typical Micah fashion, he had to make the decision to be proactive in supporting the surviving victims, their families, and all of us in general who are grieving. In a matter of a week and a half, Micah not only put together an incredible team to host We Are Orlando, but helped to collectively raise $20,000 for Equality Florida .
On Friday night, hosts Micah Jesse, DJ Valissa Yoe, Alicia Quarles, Aarin Speigelman, Leya Edelstein, and guests, including myself, boarded the World Yacht Duchess at Pier 81 on a gorgeous afternoon. For $50 (100% of the proceeds went to Equality Orlando) one could come to celebrate. The first thing you notice on Pier 81 are the American flags waving in the breeze. Aboard the duchess, those flags suddenly become rainbow colored, flapping triumphantly in the breeze. Folks, including myself, sipped Strawberry Field cocktails and munched on Baked By Melissa cupcakes, resplendent in rainbow glory.
The funny thing about grief is it’s ability to lie dormant, rendering the bearer unaware until the moment when it cannot be contained any longer. Micah started a vigil midway through the event and it wasn’t until the mood became more somber and the names of each and every person who lost their life was read did I realize how much the massacre had affected me. Tears rolled down my face without abandon and though they were unexpected, I welcomed them without question.
After the moving vigil, Leya came forward to raffle off a few gift cards to raise a little more money. Once this happened, I knew God was watching us. Suddenly everyone started coming forward to offer something in exchange for raised funds. From photography sessions to exclusive vacations, PR consulting sessions, nightclub tables at the Box, and even front row tickets to The Blonds fashion show in NYFW offered by the designers themselves; everyone had something to give. I was waiting for people to start taking the clothes off their backs! It was such a touching moment, something so beautiful to witness that I’m tearing just writing these words.
There is no better time to show your support than today, RIGHT NOW. You can still donate to Equality Orlando now,here. Not only was We Are Orlando an opportunity to raise money, but it was a chance to band together, grieve, and love one another. There is no better way to banish hate than with love. Happy Pride.