July 2018 Issue #19 July 2018 Issue #19 4Guys - Page 93

You mentioned your friends that went back inside to dance, and you remained outside – were you able to make any form of contact with those individuals? Brian: I wasn’t. I was with my friend Drew and we’d met up on the patio and started talking. I bought them a drink, said I was glad to see them that night, and all three of them went back inside and unfortunately two of them didn’t make it – definitely a difficult realisation. When you start seeing peoples’ names come out in the media and people that were in surgery and you saw more and more names, it was one of the hardest things. That’s when it all became even more real. Starting to see my friends’ names on a list is when it felt like it couldn’t be real and that this couldn’t be happening to me. That was probably the first moment it felt truly real. Following the attack, there were global moments of remembrance and even President Obama paid tribute to those lost. What did having that support do for your process of healing? Barbara: It was surprising to me because Pulse was a tiny little gay bar in the corner, so to know people – not just from our own country, but around the world – were with us and grieving and mourning with us was surprising. We felt comforted, we felt strength and it made you feel less lonely. I didn’t get to see much of the response of that as I didn’t have the TV on so even when Paris lit the Eiffel Tower or Australia lit the bridge, I didn’t see that until people showed me pictures after. I couldn’t compute it at the time, and we still talk about it now. Brian: We received letters from Prince William and Kate Middleton and we received a visit from President Obama and Vice President Biden who had flown to Orlando and actually met with the survivors and the victims’ families privately. You didn’t feel like you were speaking to the president with a team or that he was only there because of press. You felt like you were talking to a president who cared and was concerned about you. There was no one telling you your time was up. Only when you finished speaking would he move onto the next person, and he probably would have stayed another few hours if he had needed to. It was a surreal, amaz- ing and humbling experience to be able to sit down with the leader of the US and have him express his concerns for us and the community. 93