It was the deadliest attack on the LGBTQ community in U.S. history.
Now, a major new art exhibit remembering the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando is coming to Chicago. The goal is to honor the victims and ensure it never happens again.
"It is a moment to heal. To remember. To bring community together and to hope this never happens to our community again,” said Tico Valle, Executive Director of the Center On Halsted.
On Thursday, Valle stood in front of the massive new mural just installed at the center on Halsted -- a community house for Chicago’s LGBTQ population in the heart of Boy's Town. The mural is part of a travelling exhibit titled "Remember the 49 and Those Left Behind."
In 2016, a 29-year-old man opened fire inside Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, killing 49 people and wounding 53 others. It was the deadliest massacre by a single shooter in U.S. history until the Las Vegas rampage a year later.
"It was a moment for us that frightened us and shook us."(condense) "Here we were gathering in a safe space and it was no longer safe for us,” Valle said.
The large, colorful mural celebrates the lives of those who died and contains the handprints of scores of first responders. The exhibit also features portraits of each of the 49 victims painted by their families.
"Art therapy. What better way to begin healing? And that was a way to bring the community together and go through the grief,” Valle said.
Visitor Joel Acosta stopped by the center for help with work and was drawn to the exhibit.
FOX 32: What goes through your mind when you look at that?
"It could have been me. I could have been on vacation in Florida or it could have happened in the City of Chicago,” Acosta said.
The artwork officially goes on display Friday and will be here for six weeks. Anyone from the public is welcome to stop by and take a look at it during the Center's regular hours.