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Knights Come Out with Pride

Five months after the Pulse tragedy, UCF students, faculty and staff joined thousands in Orlando to celebrate and support the city’s LGBTQ community. 

Photos and words by Deanna Ferrante 

As nearly 150,000 people lined the streets of downtown Orlando, members of the UCF’s community marched proudly around Lake Eola, rainbow flags held high, in celebration of the City Beautiful’s annual Come Out With Pride festival. 

“It was such an amazing experience to be able to be out and proud with my school,” said Michael Nunes ’16, who’s currently a graduate student in mental health counseling. “After everything that has happened this summer, Pride was incredibly cathartic and helped a lot of people with their grieving process.” 

The day also marked the fifth month since the Pulse nightclub tragedy, and tributes to the victims were scattered throughout the parade. Among them were 49 angelic kites by Vandy Wood, a UCF associate professor of scenic and lighting design. With the help of students and alumni and with money out of her own pocket, she created a kite to represent each person killed on June 12, as a way for friends and family to represent the victims as they walked in the parade. 
The father of a Pulse survivor holds a sign and flies an angel in honor of his son during Pride 2016. The man’s son, Chris Brodman, had originally survived the shooting, but died unexpectedly in September due to rare genetic defect.
Two family members of a Pulse nightclub victim hold Wood’s angel kites while wearing Pulse t-shirts.
Four loved ones hold a kite in honor of Pulse victim Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26, before Orlando’s Come Out with Pride parade. 
Friends and family of the victims of the Pulse nightclub tragedy march in the Orlando Come Out with Pride celebration. Many of them carried hand-decorated angel kites made by UCF associate professor Vandy Wood.
Friends and family members fly an angel kite in memory of the 49 people killed during the Pulse nightclub shootings during Orlando’s Come Out with Pride parade.
Members of the UCF community hold a UCF Pride banner while waiting to march in Orlando’s 2016 Come Out with Pride parade.
One energetic Knight shouts out a “UCF” chant as the crowd cheers along during the Pride parade in downtown Orlando.