GLAAD MEDIA GUIDE: How to Talk About the Mass Shooting at Pulse Nightclub

By |
June 2, 2021

The mass shooting at Pulse Night Club claimed the lives of 49 people on June 12, 2016 in Orlando, Florida, leaving 53 injured. Not only was this one of the deadliest mass shootings in American history, it was also the deadliest single incidence of violence against LGBTQ people in the U.S.

Overwhelmingly, Latinx LGBTQ people and their families of choice and origin were most affected, as the shooting took place on “Latin Night” at the LGBTQ nightclub.

Those who shared one or more identities in common with the 49 taken and the survivors—LGBTQ, Latinx, people of color, and immigrants of many nationalities—are still grieving and processing what the shooting means about identity and safety.

The shooting continues to have a tremendous impact on survivors and their communities both inside and outside Orlando, with people in and from Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and other places affected by the violence.

Media coverage can play a critical role in helping people access a deeper understanding of what LGBTQ+ and Latinx communities are experiencing in the aftermath of Pulse.


Violence against LGBTQ people, particularly transgender women of color, is still alarmingly high in the U.S. and abroad. When covering the attack and its aftermath, it’s important to touch on the convergence of the persistent and pervasive discrimination that LGBTQ people of color are forced to confront on a daily basis.

The violent attack targeted what was intended to be a safe and celebratory night for Latinx LGBTQ people in Florida. It’s important to put this incident in context of anti-LGBTQ animus and violence in the United States, and also give platform to the voices of people most directly impacted by the Pulse shooting.

In addition to GLAAD, organizations that can help provide clarity include Muslims for Progressive Values, Immigration Equality, Equality Florida, Hispanic Federation: Proyecto Somos Orlando, and QLatinx. GLAAD can also connect you with other experts who can talk about the intersections of identity and issues presented in analysis of the attack. Because people are still grieving, be aware that there may be members of the local community that are not ready for media apperances.


  • Avoid reenactments of the violence. These are unnecessary and can re-traumatize those impacted.
  • Avoid erasing the sexual orientation and/or gender identities of the 49 taken, the survivors, and the friends and families of Pulse attendees.
  • Avoid erasing the nationalities, immigrant histories, and the specificity of the communities impacted.
  • Avoid speculating about the shooter’s motive, background, religion, or sexual orientation.
  • Avoid using statements that generally characterize Islam or Muslim people as violent.


Developed by Equality Florida for the #HonorThemWithAction campaign.

  • Use the word “taken” or “killed,” not “lost” when referencing the the 49 victims of Pulse.
  • Call it the five-year mark or five years since the Pulse shooting, not the  “anniversary" when referring to the date. 
  • Do not name the shooter as suggested by No Notoriety. Focus on the victims, their friends, families, and community members. 

Revisit the GLAAD Media Reference Guide to make sure you are using the most up-to-date terms and definitions when talking about peoples’ sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression.

  • These guides are available in both English and Spanish


  • Acts of Love and Kindness is a movement grown out of the spirit of giving and good deeds witnessed in the aftermath of the tragedy. The movement inspires the Orlando community and beyond to engage in volunteerism, share stories and show support through acts of love and kindness in the 49 days leading up to June 12. Participants are encouraged to share their stories on social media using the hashtag: #ActLoveGive

  • A part of the Acts of Love and Kindness movement, on June 12, bells will toll 49 times in unison around the world as a tribute to the victims lost during the Pulse Nightclub tragedy. Mothers of the victims are calling upon churches, temples, synagogues, mosques and businesses to join them by tolling their bells and showing solidarity with messages of love and kindness on their public signs.

    Other stories:
  • Family and friends’ recollections of the lives of their loved ones.
  • How the impacted communities are organizing to promote healing in the aftermath of the shooting.
  • The importance of safe spaces for LGBTQ people, whether at home, school, work, or out in their local communities.
  • The effects of the mass shooting on peoples’ mental health and feelings of security.
  • How the intersections of peoples’ identities contribute and compound to create their life experiences.

GLAAD is available to help journalists and media professionals cover this important topic, and connect them with people who would be willing to speak about their stories and experiences. Please reach out with any questions related to coverage in both Spanish and English of the Pulse shooting.

The following people are also available to speak with media about Pulse and their work since the shooting. 

  • Brandon Wolf, Equality Florida, The Dru Project, survivor of Pulse, gun reform advocate
  • Sherri Absher, One Orlando Alliance
  • Sam Graper, Orlando Immunology Center
  • Christopher Cuevas, Executive Director of QLatinx
  • Nancy Rosado, UCF Restores, Orlando area actvist
  • Marco Antonio Quiroga, Program Director Contigo Fund, a grantmaking fund created to support Latinx, LGBTQ people and those impacted by the shooting
  • Rep. Carlos Guillermo-Smith, Equality Florida and legislator for the Florida State House
  • Felipe Sousa Matos Rodriguez, City of Orlando, office of the Mayor

For media requests, please contact Mathew Lasky at GLAAD.

More resources about how to cover news stories that include LGBTQ people or impact LGBTQ people in Florida will be covered in an upcoming  guide from GLAAD, Southern Stories: A Guide for Reporting on LGBT people in Florida.