Orlando Businessman Commemorates Pulse Shooting Victims as 5-Year Anniversary Approaches
Orlando, Florida (February 5, 2021) - What began as a simple roll of rainbow ribbon and a box of pins has grown into an international movement to never forget the victims of the worst mass shooting in the country’s history, the tragedy at the Pulse Nightclub on June 12, 2016. As the one year mark of the Pulse shooting approaches, the Orlando Ribbon Project is committed to remembering the 49 men and women who lost their lives that night, those left critically and emotionally injured and supporting the rights of the LGBTQ community.
The Project is asking people to don one of their simple, yet profound rainbow ribbons in support on June 12, 2021.
Founder Ben Johansen began the Orlando Ribbon Project immediately following the shooting in an effort to bring together the community and spread love and hope, one ribbon at a time. As his husband Tim Vargas, then President of the GLBT Community Center of Central Florida’s Board of Directors, rushed to the Center that Sunday morning of the shooting, Ben headed to a nearby craft store and bought a roll of rainbow ribbon and a roll of black ribbon and a box of pins. He began making the ribbons for volunteers, but the requests began pouring in and the Orlando Ribbon Project was born.
Since then, nearly ½ million ribbons have been made and sent around the world in support of the victims of the Pulse shooting and the Orlando community. The movement continues to grow with celebrities including Alan Cuming, Jamie Lee Curtis, Chita Rivera and the B-52’s proudly wearing the ribbons in support and encouraging their fans to do the same.
“The Pulse shooting may have taken place here in Orlando, but it was felt all over the world,” says Johansen. “I feel that when people see the ribbon, not only do they remember what happened, but they smile in memory of those we lost. I believe there are more good people than bad out there. The Orlando Ribbon Project is about blanketing Orlando and the world with rainbow ribbons and spreading love and hope at the same time. We must never forget why we wear the rainbow ribbon. We must always remember The49 and we must also continue to fight for LGBTQ rights as human beings just like everyone else.”
The Orlando Ribbon Project is marking one year after the Pulse shooting by asking local politicians, community leaders, television personalities, celebrities and supporters around the globe to don the rainbow ribbon in solidarity, support and love. Many are pledging their support including Orlando Police Chief John Mina who has announced that the Orlando Police Department will be wearing the ribbons in support on June 12.
### ABOUT THE ORLANDO RIBBON PROJECT The Orlando Ribbon Project was started after the Orlando Pulse Tragedy on June 12th, 2016. When the events of the night and the next day unfolded, Ben Johansen, founder of the Orlando Ribbon Project, woke up startled by his husband Tim Vargas who was the President of the LGBT Community Center of Central Florida’s Board of Directors at the time. They rushed immediately to the Center, as many did that day, and Tim immediately sprang into action leaving Ben to handle the incoming community and media. Ben felt strongly that he needed to bring awareness to everything that was going on. He ran to a nearby craft store and bought one roll of rainbow ribbon, one roll of black ribbon and a box of pins. He began making the ribbons for those volunteering at the Center, but quickly more and more people began requesting ribbons and Ben kept making them. The Orlando Ribbon Project was born.