NEW YORK — As pride month begins, rainbow flags on Thursday were raised above Long Island, where a survivor of the Pulse nightclub shooting served as a voice for those who are no longer here.
"It's very hard. We're still in pain," said Javier Nava.
He survived the massacre in Orlando that claimed the lives of more than 50 people who'd gathered at the gay nightclub.
That night, Nava was struck by a bullet, which remained lodged in his stomach for more than 10 months. He also lost many friends.
But he stood tall and strong on Thursday alongside officials in Long Beach to be a voice for those who are no longer here.
"It's a long process. We are healing but our community in Orlando and around the country have been very united," he said.
This year, for the first time, Long Island Pride will be in Long Beach, with a three-day pride celebration and over 30 events taking place, including performances from Randy Jones of the Village People.
"I am one of those who have been for equality no matter your color, race, religion of what your sexual orientation is for most of my life," Jones said.
In lower Manhattan, members of two historic houses of worship, Trinity Church and St. Paul's Chapel, held a brief service celebrating diversity and solidarity before raising their flag.
And in Greenwich Village, Chelsea Clinton is expected to kick off the Stonewall Gives Back Initiative, a new non-profit dedicated to helping the LGBT-community.