Brandon Wolf, a survivor of the 2016 Pulse Nightclub shooting, spoke last weekend at an LGBTQ+ drag show at The Emerson Bar in Midtown Reno. He was also campaigning for U.S. Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).
Wolf spoke to the crowd of nearly 30 activists, supporters and curious attendees. He spoke about his experiences from the June 2016 shooting and how it has impacted his life. He said he lost his partner Neil in a hail of automatic gunfire that took 53 other lives, including the gunman who was killed by police after a three-hour standoff.
His last words from Neil were, “I love you.”
Wolf was in the bathroom of the nightclub when the shooting occurred. He found himself running out into the darkness with 13 others trying to escape the automatic gunfire that was mowing down people in the dozens.
“I’ll be frank that I didn’t know what to do anymore,” he said. “I was facing the reality of life without my best friends. A wedding without best men, birthday parties with empty seats and I didn’t know what life looks like anymore. So I went into hiding for a couple days and I wasn’t sure that I would ever come out.”
The thesis of Wolf’s speech for Warren was: “Donald Trump is waging war on the LGBTQ+ community. We have to evict this man in the White House. We have to start with that.”
In an interview with This Is Reno, Wolf spoke about why he came to Reno and why he was supporting Warren.
“Life was pretty ordinary for me before June of 2016, and then I did what I always did with my best friends, which was go to Pulse nightclub, and that changed everything for me,” he said. “I think that’s what drew me to the Senator, and that’s a little bit of why I’m here.”
After the event I had a chance to speak with The Emerson owner Tyler Colton to explain why he decided to put on this event at The Emerson:
“There should always be different events like this happening for every type of [politician], whether it’s just city [a] councilman, or [the] district level, all the way up to presidential candidates. These are always needed so people can ask the different questions and understand where the politicians are … coming from.”
Voting preferences may not have changed from this event. What is clear, though, is Wolf’s attendance on Saturday moved many attendees. He put a face to a mass tragedy that Americans seem to hear about almost daily.
Don Dike-Anukam is a Reno native attending college in northern Nevada. He has been involved in activist politics for 15 years on and off, and has been involved in multiple campaigns in multiple positions in that time. He also was a college radio political, news, and talk-show host covering a range of stories from hostage standoffs, fires, interviews, and public speeches.