A Survivor of the Orlando Massacre Wrote a Heartbreaking Letter to the Shooter

After surviving the horrifying massacre at a gay club in Orlanco, Florida this past weekend, Alejandro A. Francisco is speaking out with an open letter to the shooter, Omar Mateen. The result is equal parts devastating, resilient, and inspiring.

“I’m a young, gay man who was born in New Jersey and grew up in Orlando,” Alejandro A. Francisco starts in his open letter for xoJane. “I love my friends, I love my parents, I’m half Puerto Rican, half Dominican, 21 years old, and at 2 a.m. on Sunday morning, you almost took my life.”

He then goes on to explain that he and his friends had planned to stay at Pulse until it closed that night. However, one of his friends suggested they leave a few minutes early to avoid the crowds of people who would try to leave at the exact same time. By the time the group of friends crossed the street, they could hear the gunshots and mayhem happening inside the night club.

“I go to Pulse nightclub in Orlando because I feel comfortable there, and I can be myself,” he wrote. “Several of my friends were there that night, including my friend Stanley. I will never see Stanley again. You took that away from me.”

“Let’s call it what it was: the worst attack — on love — on U.S. soil,” he continued, listing off all of the people who were killed that night. “But Omar, you failed. You tried to massacre the very one thing that you can never destroy in our community. Ever. You can not take away our love.”

“Omar, we are stronger than your hate,” he wrote. “We always will be. [The 49 victims] did not survive. But love did. In fact, it just grew stronger.”

Find the full, heartbreaking letter at XO Jane.

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