The mass shooting that occurred on June 12 at Pulse nightclub in Orlando — leaving 49 people dead and 53 people injured — forever changed the lives of those affected by the tragedy. Those who were fortunate enough to escape with their lives after that horrible night are left trying to heal – both physically and emotionally.
Four Orlando survivors are sharing how they're overcoming the traumatic events of that night in the MTV docu-series, "True Life: We Are Orlando."
The episode follows Tony Marrero, Patience Carter, Tiara Parker, and Joshua McGill as they recount the details of their night at Pulse and their road to recovery.
Returning to Pulse was challenging for Marrero, and despite family and friends suggesting against it, he knew he had to visit.
“It was very difficult and emotional, but it was a decision that I made. I told the crew I wanted to go. I said, I really want to go because I felt like I needed to pay my respects to every single person that we lost that night, and especially my friend Luis [Vielma who died at Pulse], and it’s all part of the process. In order for you to heal, you need to do these things, you need to just go at it, at least that’s how I heal. When I got to Pulse and I saw the amount of love that people were leaving, it was just so touching that I focused on that, instead of focusing on what happened that night.”
Documenting his experience is important to Marrero. He sees it as a way to honor those who lost their lives and show his relentless fight to heal.
“It’s been very hard on a lot of people, but I wanted to show people my struggle in the beginning, getting out of the hospital with open wounds, and just show them I’m still going, I haven’t given up,” he told EW. “You got to keep strong, you got to keep going, and that’s why I decided to do [the show], so people can take that with them and stay strong. We have to keep going for those that we lost.”
Even after experiencing this harrowing ordeal, Marrero's message is still one of unity.
“We can all rise together. That’s my message, that’s what I want people to take out of this episode.”
The "We Are Orlando" episode airs Monday (August 15) on MTV.