North Texans Reflect on Orlando Club Shooting

A North Texas native currently working as a freelance journalist in San Francisco is reflecting on Sunday's massacre inside Orlando's Pulse nightclub.

Christopher Jones has worked as an LGBTQ journalist for the past decade, including working in various capacities for Instinct Magazine.

"Part of our job was to host events all across the country for Pride," Jones said. "Pulse and Gay Days Orlando were two events for many many years, and a lot of those people became my friends to the point where I would consider some of them my family."

Jones told NBC 5 after the attack he looked at his phone, hoping it would not ring.

"Because I knew if it rang, especially from any of my colleagues, it was going to be bad news," Jones said. "And it rang – you know, it rang."

Jones' friend Edward 'Eddie' Sotomayor Jr. was killed in the attack, as were at least two other people he knew.

"I met Eddie on my first trip to Orlando, and I was still kind of a media journalist baby, and this kid came barreling out of nowhere and was like, 'I need to know you and I'm going to connect you to everybody,' and that was just the start of his energy," Jones said.

"Him being gone is a big loss for the LGBT community," Jones added.

Another of Jones' friends was severely injured.

"It's just weird. I still consider myself young, and I'm just like it's weird to lose friends to things like this – senseless acts of violence," Jones said. "It's a sad day, and I was devastated."

Jones said the movement of support, including memorials, vigils and marches across the United States, show the impact of what happened.

"We care, and we're not going to hide or be fearful. This is not a time – this is Pride month – and we shouldn't be ashamed of who we are," Jones said. "The fact that we wake up every day as LGBTQ people shouldn't be an act of bravery, we should just be able to live our lives without being in fear that we're going to be shot."

Jones said gay bars and clubs are supposed to be a sanctuary for the LGBT community.

"LGBT people, when you grow up and you get your first boyfriend or girlfriend, you're scared to hold hands in public, you're scared to show affection, because you don't know how other people are going to respond. These are supposed to be safe havens for us – if our schools aren't safe, our universities aren't safe, if you can't even go out to a restaurant or bar and have a drink and be safe – what is safety? In turn, what is freedom. This is not being free," Jones said.

Jones says he is more vigilant following this attack, but says you can't live in fear.

"You know, you do have to do things differently – and I would say for me personally and probably for a lot of people in our community – it's not so much different than what you're doing right now. We are all very vigilant, we're always looking behind our backs, we're always questioning our situations. You have to bring that up a notch, you have to be even more vigilant, even more aware of your surroundings and push though the pain and the fear of not living fully. Because if you do succumb to, 'Oh, this just happened, I can't go to the Pride parade, I can't go to the bar,' they win," he said. "You're not living your life authentically. We all deserve that, we all deserve that."

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