Metro Weekly

Pulse nightclub owner: Hate cannot win, we will reopen

Barbara Poma won't give in to fear

Barbara Poma, Credit: Today
Barbara Poma, Credit: Today

“We just have to move forward and find a way to keep their hearts beating and keep our spirit alive, and we’re not going to let someone take this away from us.”

Barbara Poma, owner of Pulse nightclub, in an interview on the Today show, vowing to reopen the club as a “a safe, fun place to come be who you are.”

Founded in 2004 by Barbara Poma and her friend Ron Legler, Pulse commemorated Poma’s late brother, who had succumbed to AIDS in 1991. It was created to serve “as a place of love and acceptance for the LGBTQ community.” Speaking with Today, Poma described the moment she learned about Sunday’s shootings, which claimed 49 lives and injured another 53.

“When my manager called me and told me, and he was just yelling into the phone,” she said. “He just kept saying, ‘We have a shooter. We have a shooter.’ I just kept screaming, ‘What?’ And finally it sunk in.

“You can’t wrap your brain around that. You just can’t.”

But Poma vowed not to let the attacks, the worst mass shooting in American history, force the club to close or the local LGBT community to seek another place to feel safe and welcomed.

“Because we are family. It has been something that has been important to me since day one,” she said. “Is that we weren’t just a place to work. You know, we worked together toward one certain goal, a certain mission, and we have to do it together, and now we mourn together.

“I will not let hate win,” she continued. “We will heal together…. Pulse will always continue to be the heartbeat of Orlando.”

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