Kentuckiana Pride Festival organizers deeply affected by mass shooting in Orlando
The terror attack in Florida hangs like a cloud over Louisville's Pride events.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The terror attack in Florida hangs like a cloud over Louisville's Pride events.
"It was sad, really sad," said Rodney Coffman, president of the Kentuckiana Pride Festival. "I had family there, and had to use the site to check in and make sure a certain individual in my family was safe."
The worst mass shooting in U.S. history happened hundreds of miles away from Louisville -- but for many in the local LGBT community, the heartbreak hit home.
Micah McGowan owns Play Dance Bar, an LGBT night club in the Butchertown neighborhood.
"I didn't sleep for about 36 hours," said McGowan. "I found myself randomly crying yesterday. This hit me harder than 911."
He says people in his club early Sunday morning were getting texts from Pulse in Florida as the shooter rampaged.
"We had friends there in Orlando and our heart was going out to them -- saddened, devastated, fear," he said.
He says that fear is palpable because the shooter targeted gays -- and Kentuckiana Pride events are scheduled for this weekend. The parade is scheduled to take place in downtown Louisville Friday night, followed by the festival and concerts Friday into Saturday.
Organizers expect a crowd of 10,000 to 15,000.
The FBI says there are no specific threats.
"We have no information to suggest any threat in Louisville or anywhere in Kentucky at this time," said Eric Metz, Kentucky Assistant Special Agent in Charge with the FBI.
Nonetheless, the FBI is involved in the security conversation for the weekend events. We're told agents may even walk in the parade, with Kentucky not immune from the dangerous terror groups.
"Our info suggests in every state in the country there has been contact with ISIL and Al Qaeda and radicalizers overseas," Metz said, adding that, "If anyone has any concerns about activity they see, or anything whatsoever, please contact the FBI."
"I can totally understand the concern, but to be honest, I think it's a time to stand strong," Coffman said.
Coffman said pride participants will standing up to hate and together, in support, showing more pride than every before.
"We can't live in fear, you know," McGowan said. "We honor Pulse and the victims by coming together by moving forward by giving all the Louisville people a place to come."
"It's not really about winning and losing it's about not living in fear," McGowan added.
Pride organizers say the city agreed to increase security with more LMPD officers for the parade route and festival. Many bars we spoke to in town also plan to add extra security staff for the weekend.
Copyright 2016 by WDRB News. All rights reserved.